Poster removal highlights ‘grey area’ in bylaws
Posters are being torn down in the north end
November 19, 2014, 9:26 AM AST
Last updated November 19, 2014, 10:24 AM AST
After work on Tuesday Josh White went immediately to his second job — postering.
With 200 posters in his bag, he started on Quinpool Road putting posters for various events on telephone poles and community poster boards.
White, the face behind Pavement Postering, started putting up posters around Halifax in 2009. Operating mostly alone, White puts several hundred posters out around Halifax on telephone poles every week.
However, in recent weeks someone — or some group — has been making a serious effort to tear his posters down.
“Posters being torn off the poles has been an issue ever since anyone has been postering,” he says. But, “Lately, in the north end, it seems like it’s been really, really, really bad […]. Most posters don’t last a day.” White says posters on Quinpool and in the south end don’t seem to be much of a problem but the problem is spreading. Posters on Bell Road are “being torn down more vigorously.”
When it comes to tearing down posters, “it’s mostly private citizens,” White says. “It seems like we’re at some sort of tipping point where there’s a couple citizens who are hellbent on tearing everything down. And then there’s people like me who poster, who are not going to stop postering. So we just keep putting them up.”
White says it is frustrating to see his work torn down. “It might take me two or three hours to put up a few hundred posters in the north end and the very next day they’re all gone.”
White says that although it is against a current bylaw to post posters on telephone phones, it is not the bylaw that is causing the mass destruction of posters because “it’s rarely enforced.”
Brendan Elliott, senior communications advisor for Halifax’s municipal government, says right now posting signs on telephone poles is “a grey area” and is not enforced unless a formal complaint has been filed because “people have a right to express themselves and so we don’t want to interfere with that.”
Recently a “massive overhaul” of the postering bylaw has been presented. Elliott says, “There’s a new bylaw that’s coming forward that’s in the discussion stages.” This one would include simpler wording than the old bylaw and also allow people to post on telephone poles.
Posting on telephone poles will come with a few stipulations. The poster will not be able to exceed a certain size, the business owner’s name will have to be displayed prominently, and the owner of the poster will be responsible to remove the poster after the event.
This legislation will return to council on Dec. 9 for a public hearing.
White says that even if the bylaw allows for posting on telephone poles, “There would still be the private citizens tearing stuff down. And I think that’s the bigger issue — there’s no way to stop somebody from doing that.”
White says postering is “a financial generator.”
“I think the city could take some of the revenue, or some of their tourism dollars, and put it into more designated poster polls,” White says. Elliot estimates there are six designated poles in the downtown area.
White says posters and postering are a sign “of a vibrant city” and “a city that’s alive.”