Concerns about graphic images advertising downtown strip clubs on utility poles were debated at Monday’s St. John’s city council meeting.
Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary wants to curb the graphic nature of some of the posters.
“These posters, oftentimes, dominate the utility poles that are in the downtown area,” she said. “They are very large posters that have sexually explicit visuals on it. And it’s really just not appropriate for families and young children.”
O’Leary said she’s received
many complaints from people of all walks of life. And she noted the
issue is not new.
“We’ve talked about this so many times before, about the issue of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and certainly nobody wants to squash any of (that),” she said.
But O’Leary wants to make sure there is still space for local bands to advertise their concerts and for non-profit groups to promote their events.
She said the clubs do have a right to advertise, but wondered what other cities across the country do about the issue.
“I think we’ve already talked to some other jurisdictions about what they do,” replied Coun. Tom Hann.
“These posters, oftentimes, dominate the utility poles that are in the downtown area.” - Sheilagh O’Leary
City solicitor Robert Bursey acknowledged some research has been done.
“It’s really not something that council, the municipality, can deal with by legislation,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff said there are only a few strip clubs downtown and when they were approached in the past, the bar owners did agree to tone down the ads.
Ward 3 Coun. Debbie Hanlon, who raised the issue last year, confirmed Duffs comments.
“I did make a phone call to the owners of certain clubs downtown and they immediately took action,” she said. “I certainly will make some more phone calls.”
But Hanlon said a look at what other cities do doesn’t apply to St. John’s.
“A lot of the municipalities don’t allow (posters) on poles at all, and we didn’t want to go down that road because we like the poles for the advertising for the arts community and local clubs,” she said.