Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Annex BIA installs anti-poster sleeves on light posts

Posters scraped off light pole on Bloor and Walmer
I noticed a few days ago that all of the posters had been scraped off the light poles on Bloor Street and thought it was just routine cleaning. That is until the next morning I stumbled upon workers who were wrapping the light poles with a tape-repellent sleeve that is supposed to keep posters off of them.

I first wrote about this back in February of 2011 for Torontoist, so it has taken the BIA quite some time to get things going. These sleeves are already in use just a few blocks west on Bloor in Koreatown. And, if you've ever walked down there, you'll notice that there are still lots of posters up on the light poles. All it takes is wrapping the tape securely all the way around the pole to keep your poster up.

Indeed, shortly after the sleeves were installed, I came across blank pieces of paper that had been taped to the poles in exactly that manner. In the bottom of each read: Annex Public Space.

Same light pole, but with new anti-poster sleeve and fresh Annex Public Space poster
As I wrote in that initial article, posters are an integral part of community expression. Many of the posters found on lamp poles are for lost cats, garage sales, and community services like guitar lessons. AstralMedia, through a 20 year street furniture contract with the City of Toronto, is supposed to be installing community message boards where people are allowed to put up posters. These official poster boards, while more are being installed, are few and far between.


  1. There are several city sanctioned poster cylinders on my way to work and I usually find myself reading them if I'm stopped at a light. Couldn't imagine a city without posters!

  2. To be fair, these plastic sleeves don't make it impossible to put up posters, as the 'Annex Public Space' posters (ironically) demonstrate. Instead, it stops the use of wheat paste and allows the posters to be properly removed. I'm glad for these sleeves (you can see my apartment in the second photo). You can also see these sleeves further west on Bloor in 'Koreatown.'

  3. I'm a bit indifferent to the poster sleeves in practice, to be honest. It's their intent that irks me, which is to hinder the ability to put up posters. But as I mentioned in the post, and you pointed out in your comment, they don't really do a good job of this.

    Part of it is just aesthetics. Some people, like me, enjoy a kind of haphazard mess of posters, while others, like perhaps the BIA, see it as clutter that de-beautifies the neighbourhood.

  4. The purpose of a Business Improvement Area is to enhance the neighbourhood and make it more appealing for people to want to stop and shop. Posters and graffiti on poles are not condusive to achieving this. The Anti-Graffiti Anti Postering Sleeves work. It's the indifferent people who choose to use this medieval approach to "communicate" that are broken. In this day and age, where you can reach out and communicate with millions of people via Twitter, Facebook, BBM, My Space.....postering is an old and ugly way of getting the message across. I know many local business owners in my neighbourhood that would be more than willing to put up posters in their shops to advertise lost cats, piano lessons. I know editors of local newspapers who would promote community events. The heart of a neighbourhood is comprised of the business that encompass it. We should support our local business owners by helping them to make improvements to the area, allowing them to be successful, and in turn allowing the neighbourhood to thrive. A BIA doesn't set out to make a neightbourhood beautiful...the intent is to create a space where families, local area residents, tourists would want to spend an afternoon taking a stroll and shopping. I don't know how many of these groups would want to do that in a "haphazard mess" of a neighbourhood. Posters and Graffiti have their place in society, but not at the expense of the mom and pop small business owners, who decided to get together to try to make a living and are an intergal part of a community. Just a thought.