Petition to Mayor's Office, City of Toronto, David Shiner, Jaye Robinson
Defer the Leaside Digital Billboard
City Council is voting on the proposed Leaside Digital Billboard on July 15. Many residents feel that digital billboards belong in Dundas Square, but not in our residential neighbourhoods. That's why eleven residents associations representing over 20,000 households are opposed to the Leaside Digital Billboard, including the Leaside Property Owners’ Association themselves! Not a single residents group is in favour.No one wants a massive 32 square metre flashing commercial sign in their community. Three complaints have been filed with the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, suggesting that the City's "Community Benefits Policy" was violated because private companies are not allowed to ask for an exemption from a bylaw while at the same time offering cash to the city. But that's exactly what happened here. Outfront Media requires special permission to install a massive digital advertising billboard in a residential area. City staff have recommended refusal of the sign application, saying the proposed digital billboard would "represent a significant conflict with the goals and objectives of the Sign Bylaw".The applicant has been lobbying for a "variance" (exemption) from the bylaw, while at the exact same time they have been offering 40K in cash - annually - to the Leaside Memorial Gardens Arena... the site of the billboard. This is exactly what the Community Benefits Policy doesn't allow. Companies aren't allowed to bribe a neighbourhood with cash, in exchange for policies that benefit the company. Yet on the City's lobbyist registry, Outfront Media has 92 registered communications with City Councillors and members of the Leaside Arena Board of Management. At each meeting, they were offering $40K in cash in exchange for the billboard variance. The arena's board of management supports the proposal, and they have encouraged hundreds of hockey parents to support the application as well, saying it will reduce rink rental fees by $11 an hour (it actually only adds up to about 40 cents per hour, per family). Mayor Tory, we call on you to defer this item, until the Office of the Integrity Commissioner has reviewed and investigated the matter. Councillor Shiner, as Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, we call on you to support a deferral, since this item was approved by your Committee and the complaints to the Integrity Commissioner's office are related to your Committee's deliberations.Councillor Robinson, as Chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, we call on you to support this deferral, since you have been a tireless advocate and champion for pedestrian safety and road safety, and these digital billboards are designed explicitly to distract drivers' attention from the road. More research needs to be done about this potential risk, before a decision is made.Thank you!