Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Toronto sign by-law an assault on small businesses, advertisers and City finances

The following is a press release by the Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada regarding the City of Toronto's proposed by-law on outdoor signs:

Recommendations developed without fair and proper consultation with Out-of-Home industry

TORONTO – October 28, 2009: The Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada (OMAC) today requested the City of Toronto sign by-law project team defer presentation of its draft by-law to the Planning and Growth Committee scheduled for Nov. 4, 2009 and enter into meaningful discussions with out-of-home media companies about an appropriate by-law. The City plans to arbitrarily impose a new by-law without proper consultation with the industry which includes new taxes, increased fees and the introduction of new fees and regulations OMAC believes are punitive, unrealistic and unfair. The draft by-law will severely damage the out-of-home industry, its many dependent stakeholders in Toronto and ultimately reduce income to the City in the form of rent and taxes.

The estimated $10.4 million tax being targeted at the outdoor industry is 25% higher than OMAC members total annual earnings of $8 million before deducting interest and taxes and three times the amount recommended in the 2007 Hemson Report. No economic basis for this tax has been presented and only 20% of the tax collected is for administration and enforcement of the new by-law. The tax is punitive and puts at risk thousands of jobs in the industry directly and indirectly. The Outdoor industry is surprised given that the Mayor has publicly stated there would be no new taxes.

The City of Toronto is the single largest beneficiary of revenue from the Outdoor industry. OMAC members contribute $36.8 million in average annual revenue to the City through current lease agreements compared to $28.4 million in annual revenue to all private property owners.

“We are disappointed the City sign by-law project team chose to shut the industry out of a proper consultative process and is pushing forward with new untested rules and new unsubstantiated taxes that may devastate the industry financially and put at risk significant revenue earned by the City of Toronto as well as many small businesses,” said Rosanne Caron, President of OMAC.

Since the summer of 2008, OMAC has attempted to work with the sign by-law project team to participate in developing a by-law that is best for all stakeholders. OMAC prepared and delivered three submissions on Oct. 1, 2008; February 13, 2009 and March 31, 2009 that detailed the issues that needed to be addressed and provided recommendations for resolution. Despite repeated requests, OMAC has not been given the opportunity to review these submissions, nor received feedback from the sign by-law project team. OMAC recently sent letters of concern to Toronto Mayor David Miller on September 15, 2009 and to the sign by-law project leader on October 5, 2009. Neither letter received a response.

“This is not a fair, open or transparent process,” said Ms. Caron. “We have attempted to dialogue with the City over the past eighteen months but have never received a response of any kind concerning our many submissions including an independent economic analysis of the proposed billboard tax.”

OMAC is requesting a deferral of one month to enable all stakeholders to properly review the proposed sign by-law report and for the Planning & Growth Committee to hold a special meeting in December to deal with the matter.

OMAC members represent 90% of the outdoor advertising revenue generated in the City of Toronto which includes industry leaders such as Astral Media Outdoor, CBS Outdoor, the Outdoor Broadcast Network, Pattison Outdoor and Titan Outdoor.

To read OMAC’s position on the City of Toronto’s proposed harmonized sign by-law and billboard tax, visit:

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About OMAC
OMAC ( is responsible for promoting the benefits and effectiveness of out-of-home media to advertisers and advertising agencies. OMAC seeks to develop and implement new initiatives that serve as a resource
to the industry and increase understanding of out-of-home media.

For more information, please contact:

Alyssa Sotak
Optimum Public Relations

Rosanne Caron
President, OMAC
416-968-3435 ext. 108

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