Residents post ‘notice of violation’ on 2 billboards deemed illegal in Bathurst near Davenport


Some Toronto residents, tired of what they see as City Hall’s inaction, have posted on two billboards they deem illegal to create a big “Notice of Violation” message.

The large print message comes after 15 years of demands from residents at City Hall to remove signs on Bathurst Street north of Davenport Road. Residents filed the notice on Friday.

Dave Meslin, a worried neighbor, said a few people who live in Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul felt they had no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

“We noticed a lot of billboards in our neighborhood were unlicensed. We targeted this one just as an experiment and asked city staff to remove them,” Meslin told CBC Toronto. Monday.

“They sent the billboard company a notice of violation in 2006. But they only used a 24 point font. time.”

“It’s called public space for a reason”

Meslin said there were hundreds of billboards in Toronto and that 15 years ago residents teamed up with urban planning students at Ryerson University to conduct a billboard check. in the neighborhood. They discovered that the majority of them did not have clear permits.

“There are definitely dozens of illegal billboards in Toronto and we think City Hall should enforce the bylaws and remove them. I mean, it’s called public space for a reason. It’s our space, not their.”

WATCH | The inhabitants take matters into their own hands:

Meslin said residential neighborhoods do not need the “visual pollution” from commercial advertising.

“In the public space, if we want to have signs with signs, it should be art made by local high school students, it should be messages from the local church, synagogue, mosque or the residents’ association, ”Meslin said. noted.

“It might just be a big bulletin board for people to post a message. The last thing we need in our residential neighborhood is just more corporate signage.”

Documents released by the city in response to an Freedom of Information request show that the billboards have been there since at least 1951. The billboards are located at 25 Burnside Dr.

In 2006, the city issued a notice of violation to Mediacom Inc., now known as CBS Outdoor, a division of CBS Canada Holdings Inc., claiming it did not have a signed permit for the signs. posting in violation of the Toronto Municipal Code. Since 2006, the city and the company have been fighting over record keeping and legality.

According to CBS Outdoor, billboards have a “legal status of non-compliance.” On its website, the City of Toronto indicates that the status “exists when the zoning of the site does not permit its current use, but that use was authorized and existed before the enactment of the current zoning by-law.”

Dave Meslin, a worried neighbor, says, “This is our town, isn’t it? This is your city, this is my city. It is not their playground to do whatever they want. We reclaim this public space, but also the town hall because they don’t do their job of protecting our space, so we do it ourselves. (Jessica Ng / CBC)

According to Meslin, there is no evidence that permits ever existed for the billboards and the company has produced no evidence to support its claim.

“It’s our city, right? It’s your city, it’s my city. It’s not their playground to do whatever they want,” he said. “We are recovering this public space, but also the town hall because they don’t do their job of protecting our space, so we do it ourselves.”

The “basic” opinion argues, according to the city councilor

Com. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 12, Toronto-St Paul’s, said if billboards are in place they must have a permit, and if they don’t, they shouldn’t be there.

“If residents question the legality of these billboards, they need to be explored, investigated and determined whether or not they are legal,” he said.

Matlow said he sympathized with the concerns of residents opposed to the billboards. He said their “basic violation notice” was creative and made an important point.

“I think the residents are not only coming from the right place, but certainly, if the company cannot demonstrate that it even has a legal right to have its billboards in the first place, this needs to be resolved.”

Matlow said he was working with city staff, including lawyers, to determine if the ad should be removed and if it should have been there in the first place.

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