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Quebec City seeks to ban billboards Ontario's top court overturns similar bid MARIANNE WHITE, Canwest News Service Published: 13 hours ago For many Canadians, roadside billboards are part of everyday life. But historic Quebec City wants to make them a thing of the past. The municipality said this week it is moving ahead with a plan to ban all billboards across the 400-year-old city, just as Ontario's top court overturned Oakville's attempt to restrict their use. Oakville's city council has been fighting for years to keep billboards out of its community and the recent ruling dealt a major blow to their attempt. The Ontario Court of Appeal found Monday that the bylaw was an unreasonable "intrusion" on freedom of expression and sent Oakville back to the drawing board. But that decision isn't stopping Quebec City council. "We are aware of the situation, but we are sticking to our position," spokesman François Moisan said. "People come to Quebec City because it's beautiful and we want to make it even more beautiful." The city celebrated the 400th anniversary of its founding this year. Quebec is the latest Canadian city to move to restrict billboards. Vancouver has banned large signs on rooftops while some Ottawa city councillors are asking for the power to veto billboards in their wards. Last year, one of the world's most populous cities, Sao Paulo, Brazil, unplugged its neon signs and banned all types of outdoor advertising. But taking down billboards isn't always easy. The case of Oakville has been a long-running legal battle between the city and a billboard firm and it took Vancouver 10 years to finally be able to get rid of its some 300 billboards. Oakville councillor Tom Adams, who has worked on drafting the billboard bylaw, said other Canadian cities are going to benefit from his city carrying the banner on this issue. "This battle is not over yet and other municipalities will obviously be interested in the outcome," Adams said. Rawi Tabello, who runs the Toronto-based website illegalsigns.ca, which keeps track of sign wars, said advertising firms are eager to put up a fight. "Advertisers are getting desperate to attract people because now you don't have to watch ads on TV. So billboards are proliferating because you have no choice but to look at them," he added.
Billboards are here to stay, city says A proposed bylaw in provincial capital would ban the signs from its territory JAMES MENNIE, The Gazette Published: 6 hours ago Billboards may become a thing of the past in Quebec City by 2013, but there's no indication it will also happen in Montreal. "The city (of Montreal) has no intention of following suit," city hall spokesperson Darren Becker said, referring to public hearings in Quebec City about whether a total ban on billboards there should go into effect in five years. "We did ask for a review of the trucks that pull billboards down city streets, but no more than that," Becker said. A billboard greets motorists arriving in Montreal via the Bonaventure Expressway. Quebec City is considering outlawing such advertisements.View Larger Image View Larger Image A billboard greets motorists arriving in Montreal via the Bonaventure Expressway. Quebec City is considering outlawing such advertisements. His comments follow reports of a growing wave of corporate criticism of a proposed bylaw in Quebec City that would make it illegal to erect a billboard within its territory. City officials in the provincial capital have defended the law by stating that the architecture and scenic beauty of their municipality shouldn't be hidden behind advertising. Public hearings are being held to debate the bylaw, which the municipality hopes to adopt by the end of this year and put into effect by 2013. However the aesthetic argument doesn't hold water with corporations and companies that rely on billboard advertising for revenue. Billboard companies have already described the bylaw as discriminatory, and suggested they might seek damages from the city for lost revenue. More recently, oil companies have argued that removing the sign panels that advertise pump prices for gasoline at their service stations might not only result in customers being overcharged for gas, but also represent a possible danger to motorists in need of assistance who would no longer be able to see gas stations from a distance. However, Serge Viau, Quebec City's deputy general manager, said the days of billboards are already coming to an end in his municipality. Some former suburbs banned the advertising before being transformed into Quebec City boroughs, Viau said. "We already had the power to eliminate billboards written into our charter," he said. "And we did so; a few years ago we got rid of about 20 of them in downtown Quebec. "And Ste. Foy, when it was still a municipality, had a total ban on billboards." Viau said the latest ban would be total - even on public service messages produced by the provincial government. Viau said all of the city's boroughs were in favour of a total ban, rather than limiting them to particular parts of the city, such as industrial zones. The approach of trying to limit the presence of billboards to certain parts of town was tried by the city of Oakville, Ont., which adopted a bylaw in 2005 ordering billboards only be permitted in industrial zones. The bylaw was adopted after an attempt at a total ban was struck down on constitutional grounds. However, in February, that bylaw was also struck down in Ontario Superior Court, the judge ruling that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protected virtually all forms of communication. The city has decided to appeal that ruling. [email protected]