Billboards: Private Intrusion Into Public Space

A Canadian municipality successfully defends its anti-billboard by-law at the Supreme Court of Canada.
January 22, 2004, 1pm PST | Geoffrey Singer
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The community of Oakville, Ontario recently fended off a legal challenge to its strict anti-billboard controls before Canada's highest court. But the litigation raises important questions about who really wins and loses when private companies are challenged over where they may erect billboards. According to Meg Maguire of Scenic America, a Washington-based group that acts as a kind of "billboard resistance movement", it is really a class issue. While well-heeled communities such as Oakville can afford to take on the major outdoor advertising companies, those with fewer resources at their disposal may find themselves powerless to stop the advancing encroachment of billboards into the public realm. George Rust-D'Eye, the lawyer for Oakville, believes that the courts will respect the wishes of any community to control the proliferation of billboards but that many elected officials have never really turned their minds to the issue.

Thanks to Geoffrey Singer

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Published on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 in The Walrus
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