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Old Posted Dec 30, 2011, 11:15 PM
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Critics peeved over new sidewalk ‘information pillars’

Critics peeved over new sidewalk ‘information pillars’

Dec. 28, 2011

By Edward Tubb

Read More: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle2285770/

Toronto’s newest piece of street furniture was going to be the centrepiece of a state-of-the-art tourist information system and then it was redesigned. Now that it’s being placed on downtown sidewalks, public-space activists are making their opinion clear: They hate it. Why? Because they say it looks like nothing more than a garish billboard. The city calls them “information pillars,” but opponents say that name is disingenuous. “They’re 95-per-cent advertising and the information they offer is of negligible value,” said Tim Grant chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association. “It is clearly a billboard.”

- Opponents such as Councillor Janet Davis say Toronto is selling its public spaces for a pittance. “These are supposed to help people find their way and help them enjoy the public space,” she said. “Instead, they obstruct the sidewalk and hurt the aesthetic of the street.” Each three-metre pillar holds a board with two backlit six-by-four-foot ad spaces – the same standard size as the posters on a bus shelter. The space for tourist information such as walking maps, however, is much smaller and many of the pillars were installed before the maps were ready. In surface area, there is six times more advertising than space for tourist information.

- That’s very different than in the pillar’s original design. The street-furniture contract initially included a model that Astral COO Jacques Parisien has called the most useful and attractive street pillars in North America. It had a touch-screen interface, an LED ticker and a link to an information hotline. It even won an international design award. However, the technology proved unreliable and difficult to place, says Fiona Chapman, acting manager of the city’s street-furniture office. The design was also bulkier than the new one and had maintenance issues, she said. In response to the concerns, Astral proposed the current design, which passed council easily in June. In comparison, it has 60-per-cent more ad space by area and none of the originally promised technology.

- For Councillor Adam Vaughan, the problem is not just the information pillars’ appearance but also how they are being installed. Unlike the MegaBins, they are designed to be oriented perpendicular to sidewalk traffic. This maximizes advertising exposure to pedestrians and drivers but causes problems on narrow sidewalks. Partly due to placement issues, Astral has already removed about 6 pillars it installed earlier this fall, said Ms. Chapman. According to details of the agreement, Astral will pay the city the greater amount of either a guaranteed annual minimum or a set percentage of yearly revenue.


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Old Posted Dec 31, 2011, 1:05 AM
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Are Toronto sidewalks so commodious or did somebody not bother to take measurements? Those are certainly the biggest pylons I've ever seen.
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