Mar 11

Appealing billboards

Following up on news from a while back, we learned this week that the Planning and Growth Management Committee will indeed push for the city to appeal the recent court decision regarding the City’s Billboard Tax. This is a good thing.

The Globe & Mail’s Patrick White notes that the news is a bit surprising:

The committee’s unanimous decision was somewhat surprising considering it includes several key supporters of Mayor Rob Ford, one of 12 councillors who voted against taxing so-called third-party billboards in late 2009.

“Even if the mayor wanted to repeal the tax, I would hope he would still vote to appeal,” said Mr. Milczyn. “This comes down to a fundamental issues: Does the City have the right to tax?”

via Toronto, ad firms plan separate appeals over billboard tax ruling – The Globe and Mail.

Milczyn’s question is funny given some of Ford’s anti-tax rhetoric. The old-school Rob Ford, unencumbered by handlers and communication staff, wasn’t too far off from the belief that the city shouldn’t have the right to tax.

Other news from the Planning & Growth committee: They voted to throw out the entiriety of Toronto’s harmonized zoning bylaw. It only took six years of staff time to produce the bylaw, so why not just tear the whole thing up and start fresh? That doesn’t sound like a waste of resources at all.

The move is interesting because it was immediately opposed by Scarborough Councillor Norm Kelly, who previously chaired the committee. InsideToronto.com’s Mike Adler quotes Kelly in defence of the new bylaw: “We’re one city, let’s start acting like it from a zoning perspective.” Kelly has been, up to this point, a 100% supporter of Ford Nation.

Mar 11

Should have seen the signs

Paul Moloney writing for the Star:

Toronto’s new billboard tax has been virtually gutted after a court ruled the tax cannot be applied to thousands of existing signs out there.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling, released Thursday, limits the city to new signs but applications to put up new signs may plummet because they will be taxed while existing signs remain tax free.

via City could be out millions after court kills billboard tax – thestar.com.

Watch this story closely. Whether the city appeals the decision will reveal whether the new administration is serious about working for the people or if they’re just ideological anti-taxers looking out for the interests of big business.

Seriously, what’s the argument against a billboard tax? Either the city gets revenues or we end up with fewer billboards. It’s win/win.