These Mean Streets


I don’t often post about local Toronto matters, but I couldn’t resist this, I’m afraid. is to my way of thinking a wonderful example of the marriage of law, community action and technology — and, it would appear, no small amount of research, both street-level and legal.

According to this site half of the billboards in Toronto have been errected illegally:

[A]dvertising companies in Toronto have been obtaining illegal permits for billboards by filing false information with the Buildings Department.

These billboards require City Council approval — yet they are being granted permits without Council approval because advertising companies are submitting fraudulent land surveys and are lying in permit documents.

We believe that our Buildings Department has been defrauded into issuing around 100 illegal permits for billboards.

Feeding information to the Buildings Department and to Council, this group aims to have every one of the bad signs taken down. And they’ve gone into the campaign with gusto and a whole lot of knowledge about our by-laws governing outdoor signs. Who else would know the difference between a mural sign and a fascia sign, for instance? Who would even know how or where to find the relevant by-laws (which is another matter for a later post, perhaps)?

The site is well done: there are blog posts with photos of signs that are said to be illegal, along with supporting argument and, often, samples of evidence from the advertising company’s application file, as well as a Google map showing the location of all of the signs at issue — a sterling illustration of how blogging technology can aid a community movement to bring about change. Worth a look — unlike the signs they talk about.