The companies that own billboards that are no longer in compliance with Vancouver by-laws should act like good corporate citizens and voluntarily take them down.
The Coalition of Progressive Electors is calling on Pattison Outdoors, Mediacom, and Omni to do the right thing and remove billboards that were “grandparented” for five years after the city changed the sign by-law to ban billboards within 60 metres of residential areas.
“We think the billboard companies will want to save city taxpayers the costs of taking legal steps to get rid of the billboards,” said Pat Davitt, external chair of COPE. “The law was changed, the companies have enjoyed five good years to make a return on their investment, and now it’s time to take them down.”
Vancouver city council voted unanimously in June 2000 to ban billboards after a groundswell of complaints from residents about the growing intrusion into residential areas, blocked views, visual blight, and a negative impact on local shopping areas. Pattison Outdoor supported the change to the by-law and spoke in favour of the amendment at the public hearing in 2000.
City staff say that to get the non-complying billboards removed now, the city would have to complete massive amounts of paperwork, including technical drawings, hearing from billboard owners, and allowing for appeals – for each individual billboard.
COPE Councillor David Cadman is bringing a motion to council on Tuesday calling for the immediate removal of the billboards in breach of the law.
“I’d love to hear the news before council starts that the companies have begun to dismantle the billboards, Cadman said. “In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me that a good corporate citizen like Jimmy Pattison would decide to voluntarily abide by the laws instead of creating unnecessary costs for the taxpayers.”
In the meantime, Cadman said, it’s important for the city to start taking action to get rid of the billboards in residential areas. “It was an NPA-majority on council that voted to curb billboards near residential areas, and now it’s time for this NPA majority to see that people respect the by-laws that have been passed.”