Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Toronto Info Pillars Back to the Drawing Board?

Text of the motion passed at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee
Two motions put forward, one by Councillor Gord Perks and one by Councillor David Shiner, have effectively halted the installation of Astral Media's "info" pillars around Toronto after being carried at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. Councillor Shiner's motion aimed at providing local ward Councillors with more say in the approval of the location and placement of the info pillars, after concerns raised by Councillor Adam Vaughan were raised earlier about how the pillars blocked sidewalks and impeded accessibility and safety.

Councillor Perks' motion aimed more directly at the design-issues of the pillar themselves, specifically the fact that the majority of the space on the pillars are devoted to advertising rather than way-finding, causing many to raise an eyebrow over the moniker "info pillar". The decision goes to council on February 6th. 

In a media release, Toronto Public Space Initiative called the motion a "step in the right direction", saying: 
The pillars have fallen short of their promise by prioritizing advertising instead of providing residents with a strong way-finding platform. In addition, the pillars violate basic tenets of accessibility, traffic and pedestrian safety, and functionality, as well as public consultation standards, many of which are contained in the City’s own Vibrant Streets Guidelines. Plans to install 120 ‘other’ pillars in addition to these, to do what the original pillars were meant to do, raises concerns about cost efficiency.
Perhaps the study will come back with a design that is more in line with what Vancouver has rolled out in their info pillar program. The pillars have minimal impact on visibility and accessibility and contain no advertisements, except for info pillars located on downtown retail streets such as Robson.

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