The Church Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) is getting closer to banishing posters from nearly all poles on Church Street in Toronto's gay village.
BIA manager David Wootton says a test pole, just south of Dundonald Street, is now covered with eight-foot-high wrapping. He hopes to eventually cover every pole on the street.
The BIA has previously told Xtra that some residents have complained about the posters and requested that the BIA “clean up the street.”
For years, posters have been used to advertise community meetings, demonstrations, dance parties and other local events. But in recent years, there has been a push by the BIA to relegate posters to designated community postering boards. Some community activists and club promoters have expressed concern about the plan, arguing that preventing people from advertising community events limits freedom of expression and creates barriers for community organizing.
The new pole wraps prevent posters from sticking to the street poles.
“They are covered with a substance, almost like a sandpaper grid, so that posters can’t adhere to them,” BIA co-chair Avery Pitcher told Xtra when the program was announced last year. “We are trying to clean up all of the ratty, tatty paper.”
Wootton says the colour of the design on the pole wraps has not yet been confirmed and may still change. “The idea is to create this illusion of a tree,” he says. “The pumpkins have to soon go up and the parklets have to come down, so there’s quite a lot of scheduling yet to be done.”
The wraps will take two days to install at the end of October, he says. “Rainbow colours will be integrated into the bark on each post. There is also a little plaque that will say ‘the Village’ on each tree,” he says.
Claudio Santon, who designed the new gateway markers, also designed the wraps.
In all, 19 poles will get covered with the wraps. “We will have them along the Church Street corridor. We are not able to wrap the intersection poles. They won't have them.”
Wootton says he is still pushing for poles in each intersection to get covered as well.
“For this project to be successful, it needs to have the intersection poles as well, or we will have a lot of litter there,” he says. “Right now, we aren’t allowed to wrap the intersection poles, but we’re working on it in the years to come.”
Toronto Hydro restricts covering hydro poles, Wootton says, because they would interfere with the instruments and components on the pole.
The pole wraps cost approximately $24,000 in total. The BIA says the City of Toronto has agreed to pay half as part of a cost-share program.
Some community activists and event organizers have expressed concern that the change could be a problem. They say the promotion of local events on posters brings people and money to the Church-Wellesley Village. And space is always at a premium on the city’s designated poster boards.
There are currently six city-owned community designated community event boards in the Village. “We’re planning to likely increase the number to offset the loss of poles,” Wootton says.