City of Vancouver initiates review of its policies for video screen signs

Nov 25 2019, 2:10 pm

Downtown Vancouver’s streets look like anything but Tokyo, Hong Kong, and New York City’s commercial districts.

Billboards, electronic video screens, and other commercial signage are generally not major features of Vancouver’s urban landscape, but the municipal government is now gauging the public’s opinion on these types of signs as part of its latest phase of its Sign By-law Review, which provides regulations on signs.

The review reexamines the use of these signs in Vancouver, given that the city has grown and sign technology has been changing and advancing as well.

“Vancouver’s current sign regulations do not reflect changing technology or broader opportunities for community benefits such as airtime for public art, Amber Alerts, or to support arts, culture, and community events,” reads a release.

“Historically, large format paper billboards have catered to a car-oriented audience. But within North America, Vancouver has a unique context with a high percentage of cyclists, pedestrians and transit users.”

Examples of electronic advertising signs include the video screens on the Best Buy/Winners building at the intersection of Robson Street and Granville Street, which provides the City of Vancouver air time for public art and other community initiatives.

The original signs at the prominent intersection were first installed about 17 years ago, and larger replacements were approved by city council nearly two years ago, but the property owner has yet to complete the replacement.

Signage, particularly neon installations, are currently generally encouraged along the Granville Entertainment District in downtown to help provide the area with a sense of place as a lively destination.

As well, new digital screen signs that display advertisements and community uses were recently installed on the sidewalks of downtown as part of the municipal government’s long-term street furniture contract with advertising agency Outfront/JCDecaux.

But a new screen installed on the commercial frontage of the recently completed The Independent building at the intersection of Kingsway and Broadway is dedicated entirely to public art programmed by the Grunt Gallery.

An online survey currently gauges public feedback, which will help city staff create a draft framework for these signs in Vancouver. Proposed policy options will also undergo another round of public consultation in early 2020.

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New digital advertising screen sign in downtown Vancouver. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)