Toronto City Staff Propose to Allow Digital Signs in Commercial/Residential Areas

City staff are recommending that digital signs be allowed in all areas of Toronto.

While the city commissioners are preparing to allow digital billboards in the residential areas of Toronto, complaints from residents about sleepless nights due to the glar or flashing, electronic signs will continue to increase if council adopts city staff recommendations for the the new billboards.

Ted Van Vliet, the manager of the city’s bylaw unit, says it’s an exaggeration to suggest that the proposals will result in a massive expansion of digital signs and sleep-deprived citizens, because “floodgates aren’t opening”.

However, people who live in Liberty Village, in the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway, one of Toronto’s two designated areas that allow for digital signs, will be hard to convince. In an email to the sign variance committee, one resident wrote:

“I now have two layers of blinds in my bedroom and even with both sets of them closed, the digital billboard in my neighborhood leaks into my bedroom, bright enough to notice even with my eyes closed.”

In 2009, the city council passed a very comprehensive, city-wide sign bylaw, which banned the signage because of esthetics and safety concerns. Now, the city’s building department are recommending electronic signs be permitted in the districts where they were once banned.

As of right now, digital signs in areas must be no larger than three square meters, or the size and height of a bus shelter, be more pedestrian oriented, and be set back at least 30 meters from an intersection and 100 minimum meters from any other third party signs.

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