Bad memories, bad billboards

On a nice day with people milling about the TBC, CBCers outside dodging work or getting coffee, the brilliant sun shining on the building and the sidewalk, I’m reminded of the lockout of 2005.

How sad is that?

With this dreary weather at least my thoughts are my own and I feel less like a clockwork orange. Although walking around the TBC is not so fine.
Hard to believe you’re standing in front of Canada’s Public Broadcaster here.

Now, we sold out our corner to the International Academy of Noserings and Big Portfolio Bags but the other corner is home to a none-so-subtle “fuck you” from CTV. One that particularly stung during that same lockout, and which continues to irritate the hell out of me, if I’m being honest.
Rami Tabello has an excellent blog called Illegal Signs. What he does is check the permits issued to billboard advertisers to make sure that what they put up on the street matches what the city of Toronto signed on for.

It turns out that most of the billboards in Toronto are illegal, and he has the documentation to prove it. It’s really quite stunning.

I emailed him about the CTV billboards at John and Wellington. He was quite familiar with them.

They are definitely illegal, the question is only how much.

The high voltage of the hydro station behind them complicates things. The ad company was supposed to build a canopy along John to protect pedestrians, presumably from live wires. This was never done, so the permit may very well be void.

In fact, they got permission to cut down 4 city trees that were blocking the view of the ads. In exchange they had to build that canopy. And they still didn’t build it.

At the very least, Rami can nail them for illegal aspects of the billboard, such as “unlawful nightime illumination” along Wellington.
Expect a full report from Rami and his team soon.

But while we’re on the topic, this billboard at Front and Simcoe, just down the street from the TBC, bathing us in the monumental awesomeness that is Strombo, is 100% illegal. There’s no permit for it at all.
Not only that, but the city of Toronto sent them an order to take it down within 14 days. This was in late July of 2006.
As the Officer noted last year, it was advertising H&M, not The Hour.
So can we take it down, please?

And while we’re at it, might as well take this one down, too.
At least CTV is advertising shows you can actually watch.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2007 at 8:34 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “On a nice day with people milling about the TBC, CBCers outside dodging work or getting coffee, the brilliant sun shining on the building and the sidewalk, I’m reminded of the lockout of 2005.”

    The nine weeks of the lockout were the only good times I can look back on at the CBC…thank Christ I no longer work there.

  2. Dwight Williams
    Posted April 20, 2007 at 6:36 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Learning From Las Vegas, hm?

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Aigle De Nuit
    Posted April 20, 2007 at 12:15 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I am greatly distressed to hear that the city actually allowed a non-complying structure remove 4 trees as an exchange for a non-existent canopy.

    And in reference to Dwight question about whether trades such as Architects have been reading/studying certain media-manifestos; all I can say is that in Year 4 we had Robert Venturi’s “Learning from Las Vegas” on the mandatory reading list.

    At least our society is emulating “BladeRunner” and not “Deus Irae”

    Uh Oh… If I start thinking about Phillip K. Dick, I know it’s time for my meds….later.

  4. Allan
    Posted April 19, 2007 at 1:50 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Blade Runner is still one of the greatest movies ever.
    And the soundtrack is the best ever.
    And I enjoy sitting at Dundas Square, with it’s growing number of video screens.

    But I find billboards everywhere more offensive than ever.
    And the billboards are getting bigger.
    And they’re all so ugly, because of what they represent.
    Like a weird mix of pride and desperation.
    And there’s rarely an attempt at art, Just branding.
    And they’re crude and rude, despoiling the environment.
    You step on to a subway platform and are surrounded by pizza’s covering everything but the ceiling.
    Desecration of what was once a spiffy and modern government gift to it’s people – now being used to bring in a few extra bucks for whatever.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted April 19, 2007 at 5:24 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The CTV offices are already in a circle of Hell, the car exhaust out their front door in the summer is moving into a liquid phase, why torment them.

  6. Rami
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 8:15 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I once spoke with the person running the company that put up the CTV signs. He laughed while saying “Oh yeah, that’s across from their offices.”

  7. Eric S. Smith
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 7:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    ’śPerhaps, unless the billboards fall,
    I’ll never see a tree at all.’ť

    What next, burning down orphanages?

  8. Dwight Williams
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 5:57 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “Getting to be like”?

    I’d thought certain parts of downtown Toronto were already in Blade Runner territory. There are days when I believe that an unknown number of people in the ad agencies, architectural firms, etc. either in or servicing Toronto and Ottawa have been reading too much of either Syd Mead(the guy who did the heavy design lifting on the aforementioned movie) or Anton Furst’s designs from the 1989 Bat-movie and the redesign of the comics version of Gotham shortly thereafter.

    Or both.

    Back to the discussion on signage…

  9. Paul Gorbould
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 9:02 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I agree, the signage around Toronto is out of control… it’s getting to be like Blade Runner or something.

    I’ve obsessed about the CTV “fuck you” billboard a couple of times, and even had nightmares about it.

    I’m told CBC has placed similar billboards by the CTV HQ in the past. But we should at least do it legally.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 7:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Way to rock the ex-cbc host banner.

  11. Justin Beach
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 7:04 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thanks for the pointer (to the signs blog) I’ve often thought that the amount of signage that litters Toronto shouldn’t be allowed. Now I find out it isn’t allowed in principle, but it is in fact and that is Toronto in a nutshell.

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