Poster removal highlights ‘grey area’ in bylaws

Posters are being torn down in the north end

A poster being stapled to a telephone pole
The postering bylaw is rarely enforced (Photo: Alissa MacDougall).

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.”

Josh White putting a poster on a telephone pole
Josh White says postering is a benefit to the city (Photo: Alissa MacDougall).

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.”

People walking by a telephone pole with torn posters
More and more posters are being destroyed (Photo: Alissa MacDougall).

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.”

 

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10 thoughts on “Poster removal highlights ‘grey area’ in bylaws

  1. They are ugly and gross looking. Posters get torn, worn and abused and look like an eye sore on our lovely walking city. Either stick to approved poster boards for postering (perhaps “fight” for more even) But i will continue to remove posters that i find offensive, ugly or dissatisfying simply because it is not legal and it gives our city a poor image.

    1. Ugly and gross looking? Art is subjective, my friend. And you argue that posters get torn, yet you’re one of the people tearing them down. Ah, the irony.

      1. It’s not illegal, as you state. It’s a by-law offense. And that by-law is about to change since postering is well within the protected Charter of Rights and Freedoms under Freedom of Expression. This has been upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada.
      2. Do you really think advertising our city’s rich Arts & Culture scene gives the city a poor image? I’ve had tourists (on NUMEROUS occasions) stop me to see what’s happening in the city that week – is there a play at Neptune? a show with Symphony NS? where can I find a blues band? what community activities are happening? Posters do not give the city a “poor image” – people like you do.

    2. Do you really think poles with ragged bits of poster hanging off them look better than intact posters? You need a hobby. We will never stop and we will go to wheat paste if necessary, and I have seen wheat-pasted posters outlive buildings they were affixed to. 50% water + 50% flour = 100% indelible.

    3. Noved, the strips you leave after tearing down posters are much more of an eyesore. Can’t believe you think you’re doing a service to our city’s image.

      Stop being an a-hole.

    4. You know what’s ugly and gross looking? TELEPHONE POLES ACROSS HALIFAX WITH HUNDREDS OF STAPLES IN THEM AND NO POSTERS TO COVER THEM UP! You know what’s offensive and dissatisfying? The fact that you think your being a “good citizen” by ripping down other citizens posters that PROMOTE THE ARTS AND CULTURE ALL ACROSS OUR LOVELY WALKING CITY. You should watch what you say – there’s a lot of artists of all sorts in this city, they might go looking for you…. and your dog…

    5. When you remove posters, you’re not just removing what you feel is an eye sore, you are removing jobs.

      Real jobs of real people.

      Musicians, designers, advertisers, venue workers and many others rely on the income generated from the events these posters advertise and you are costing those hard working human beings time and money and causing real pain for some of them… You are removing rent, and oil bill money, you’re taking food from their tables. You are helping to add to depression as many artists find it very hard to survive and the failure of that recent event might be the thing to force them to abandon their dreams and years of hard work. You are stealing time and lowering the moral of the people who work so hard to keep an actual viable industry alive in our city, influencing peoples ability to live and work with the skill sets they have. To actively war with these poor kids because you want to feel whatever it is you feel with it, well, that’s just an unimaginably selfish act in my opinion.

      The foulest and most vile example of a poster you could find wouldn’t come close to representing the ugliness of your blind privilege. I look forward to someday having the city come to it’s senses on this issue, making it illegal to destroy other people’s ability to work.

      You make me sick.

  2. When I visit a new city, I always look to posters for representation of the real heart of what’s going on — not from the businesses who can afford to advertise on billboards (good lord, who cares about them?), but from the community itself, regardless of project profit margins. Public expression is vital, and I’m sad that a few individual citizens think they have the right to ruin that for others based on some subjective idea of aesthetics.

  3. every poster costs a musician or small business something to make, hell even owners of a lost pet need to poster. it cost us both money to print and time to put them up. It really it comes down to it being the most viable method of advertising we have, we all can’t afford radio and newspaper ads, bus posters etc…

    I remember a time when posters stayed up and were only taken down after an event was over. Even then some stayed up for months.

    to those tearing them down. say your dog or cat was lost… or you were having a yard sale etc… wouldn’t you want your poster to stay up more than a few hours? Pretty sure if you put them up only to find them torn down shortly after the fact you’d be pretty disappointed.

  4. Noved, you have declared yourself the judge of what is “offensive, ugly or dissatisfying.” What if the restof the city disagree with you and find these posters uplifting, and informative? Express your opinions verbally by all means, but do not decide for me what I can see or not see! One dictator in this country (Ottawa) is one too many. We don’t need you too.

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