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Regulating Signs and Advertising in Kingston

Billboard advertising standards, bylaw, Kingston, OntarioThey’re positioned along every major street, perched high above our busiest intersections, splashed on the sides bus shelters, waiting inside restroom stalls, and even on the backside of Kingston’s parking tickets.  Everywhere you turn in the Limestone City advertisements are attempting to influence us with semi-informative bits of information pulled from the yellow pages.  While billboards, authorized print ads and even signs for local businesses are sometimes helpful, they are typically regarded as ugly and intrusive blights on the city scape. In order to control and regulate advertising and signage, the City of Kingston has a new draft bylaw in the works, which addresses everything ranging from awnings to billboards and mobile advertisements, including how and where they may be displayed throughout the city. With community character and what constitutes acceptable marketing in mind, this week’s poll asks:

Does Kingston need tougher billboard and advertising bylaws?

  • Yes. Billboards are ugly, and uninformative. (45%, 48 Votes)
  • No. Current bylaws are strict enough. (27%, 29 Votes)
  • Yes, but only in certain parts of the city. (24%, 26 Votes)
  • No. We need more billboards. (4%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 107

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Taking a closer look at the draft bylaw regulating signs and advertising, it’s interesting to note the provisions made for devices such as sandwich boards. In that respect, the bylaw dictates that sandwich boards should not be placed in such a way that they obstruct pedestrian traffic. Does that mean that local businesses will no longer be permitted to clog up our sidewalks with their a-frames? I hope so.  Then there are the provisions regarding spot lights and gigantic balloon signs, such the inflatable Frosty you’d expect to see on the roof of a Wendy’s franchise.  If I’m understanding the draft bylaw correctly, these types of adverts would only be permitted to be displayed for two weeks at a time.

Are the new rules an indication that Kingstonians are growing tired of advertisements in the public realm, or are they simply a protective measure to prevent our busiest intersections from resembling this?  Does the draft bylaw go too far, or are they not enough to save us from the mad men?   Please drop off your thoughts below.

Thanks to T.J. Blackwell for today’s photo.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

One thought on “Regulating Signs and Advertising in Kingston

  • March 3, 2011 at 3:45 am
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    If you ask me, there's not enough advertising – local advertising. Many of the ads displayed to the public are sponsored by national or provincial organizations. If you take a look at transit advertising, you see lots of local ads on the outside of the bus, but almost nothing inside, save an ad for the Telephone Aid Line Kingston and a StarTek recruitment ad. This problem is extended to public bench advertising, which is either occupied by a real estate agent, or a sign advertising advertising. When you have "just proved bench advertising works" you've also proven local advertisement does not. Only occasionally do I see a local advertisement, and rarely is it continued through the following month. Advertising in this market is relatively ineffective because so many members of the community do not have the purchasing power to make any message truly meaningful to the public at large. I suppose we'll just have to put up with pictures of designer hard shell luggage until they exhaust the demographic.

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