Interesting situation. The artists and the community (beautifulcity.ca) are lobbying under the tag line "Too many billboards and not enough art in our city" and the Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada concluded that the tax is more than the industry earns in total and as you can imagine they vehemently oppose it.
With the long awaited vote in Toronto to put a $10.4 million tax on billboards – with the funds destined for art and beautification of the city – expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. EST, this morning...
I'm a Toronto resident and they are right. There are too many billboards and not enough art in our city. However, I am not a huge fan of taxes, especially tax on business as I feel you don't want to tax (impede) the economic engine that provides the personal incomes which should in their turn be taxed. But that is another long debate that doesn't belong here. Now having said that, it strikes me that a sweeping statement by the billboard industry that a 10.4 million tax is more than their industry earns seems pretty much impossible to me and given that it reeks of mathematical manipulations aimed to make their point I wouldn't have lead with that statement, I don't think anyone is going to buy it. It probably hurts their cause and damages their credibility more than supports it.
A tax on billboards to address the city's lack of leadership in the arts community is like putting a band aid on a slit throat. It doesn't solve the problem, it just prolongs the agony. This city needs to address how they spend money. They need to invest more in the arts, more on the services that they provide to their constituents and less on the bureaucracy that adds little to no value. They further need to strengthen their zoning laws and make them consistent so that the city doesn't turn into one big walking advertisement devoid of culture and beauty unless of course it is one very cool advertisement which I would prefer not to leave to chance. This city, my city, "Toronto" needs to stop looking for new and creative taxes to support the lack of leadership that we face. I'm all for supporting the tag line "too many billboards and not enough art in our city" but I think a tax does nothing to correct the cause that put us in this situation and it just further hurts Toronto as a preferred hub of industry.