This is a poster-free zone

A relatively unknown Brantford bylaw makes it illegal to post a sign without approval from the city. In order for a Brantford citizen to post a sign, they must go through an approval process set out by the City of Brantford. The bylaw may seem restrictive to some, but it was implemented for what the city says is a legitimate reason. Councilor Larry Kings explains the origins of the peculiar bylaw.

“We were having trouble with people taking care of their posters,” Kings says. “Often people would put posters on top of other posters, or they wouldn’t take them down for weeks after the event. It got to be very messy.”

One of the most popular areas for posters is Colborne Street and the surrounding downtown area. John O’Neill, property owner of Brant Stereo, still sees leftover posters hanging throughout his neighbourhood.

“To me what they’re doing is littering,” O’Neill says. “Right outside my store, there’s leftover tape on the street posts from an event held weeks ago. The rain’s washed the paper away but tape and glue get stuck to the posts.”

When asked how he saw the issue from an advertising perspective as a local business owner, O’Neill thinks there are other, better avenues.

“Most of those posters target students and you have The Sputnik and the Laurier TVs for that,” he says. “There are some really cheap ways to advertise. You might have to pay money to do it, but it’s worth it. These posters make the street look like a dump.”

Some types of signs, including garage sale signs, Christmas tree signs and sandwich-board signs, do not require permits. Councilor Kings explains the few problems the city has faced with the bylaw.

“Most of the really controversial signs, the ones that make strong religious or political statements, are carried around by people, so they don’t even apply to the bylaw. The law is only really enforced if residents complain about a sign and even then, the city just takes the sign down. A resident could easily put the sign up again.”

“Of course, eventually this could lead to a fine,” King says.

Michelle Eng, a student at Laurier, was unaware of the city bylaw. She sees both sides of the coin on this issue, but wonders about the grander implications of such a bylaw.

“I can see how there might be a problem with keeping the city clean,” Eng says. “But at the same time, you have to wonder if there’s a possibility for bias. If somebody puts up a poster that criticizes the city, there’s a chance the city might reject it.”

If a person does have a complaint with the rejection of one of their signs, they are free to take it up with the courts.

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