Billboard tax bylaw pulled from agenda

A new billboard fee and bylaw proposal, slated for a vote by the City of Toronto's Executive Committee on June 2, has been deferred until September.

A proposed billboard tax in Toronto that would cost outdoor companies upwards of $16 million in annual fees has been pulled from the agenda of the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee meeting on June 2. A city representative says the delay occurred because the city’s building department was not ready to submit a report for the executive committee to consider.

‘We are pleased that it’s been deferred until September,’ Rosanne Caron, president of the Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada (OMAC), whose members represents more than 90% of outdoor advertising revenue generated in Toronto, tells MiC.

OMAC recently provided the city with an economic report on the financial implications that the tax and bylaw would have on the industry. ‘Now that they’ve deferred it to September, it allows for more time to review what those implications are. I also hope that there will be the opportunity for further consultation with the city and a real dialogue on the tax and the issues with the new bylaw,’ Caron says.

Devon Ostrom, a representative from the Beautiful City Billboard Fee (BCBF) alliance says the extra time also gives their organization more time to build their position in support of the proposed bylaw., which supports the billboard fee proposal because it would help fund public art initiatives, already has the support of more than 40 community organizations across the city. ‘At the rate and type of endorsements we are receiving, there will be no problem reformulating our strategy and gearing up again,’ he writes in a letter to the group.

OMAC’s figures show the suggested tax will amount to a 25% charge on all advertising income earned from billboards, and the organization says the amount would threaten the survival of the outdoor advertising industry in the city.

Alternately, an Environics survey commissioned by the BCBF alliance in 2007 indicates that 8/10 of municipal voters support the City ‘removing billboards that
violate city bylaws and implementing fines to a level that discourages future violations.’ The poll also states 7/10 of municipal voters are in support of the City working to reduce billboards and corporate posters.