Private and Public Converge in Toronto's 'Information Pillars'

New street furniture is being installed in Toronto, but locals are already sick of it. They're called "information pillars" and are supposed to offer helpful directions and info to pedestrians, but critics complain that they're mostly advertisements.
December 30, 2011, 11am PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"'They're 95-per-cent advertising and the information they offer is of negligible value,' said Tim Grant chair of the Harbord Village Residents' Association. 'It is clearly a billboard.'

The pillar is the latest design to come out of Toronto's mammoth 2007 deal with Montreal-based Astral Media. Under the agreement – one of the largest of its type in North America – the company designs, installs and maintains new street furniture, including transit shelters, garbage bins and pay toilets."

In exchange, the company gets to keep the revenue it makes from advertising. It's a common deal in cities, where bus stops and benches are often provided through similar exchanges. But many in Toronto worry that the information pillars are simply public space sold into private hands.

Thanks to Nate Berg

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Published on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 in The Globe and Mail
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