Racy posters questioned at council

Dave Bartlett
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City can’t do much beyond asking strip clubs to tone down advertising

Couns. Tom Hann and Sheilagh O’Leary discuss the issue of posters on utility poles advertising strip clubs in the downtown during Monday’s St. John’s city council meeting. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

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.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

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  • cRaZyTMG
    May 31, 2011 - 21:15

    Here's an Idea... Build Public Notice Boards ($2500 per), Establish a fee schedule for Postings ($100 Commercial Ads, $0.25 for cultural events, $0.00 Lost Cats, etc. - Charge for postings on multiple Boards or not) Add a job for someone to collect poster & fees Develop Content/Presentation Rules or not Add a job for someone to frequently remove utility pole postings Hell, you could even publish a monthly/quarterly What's Going On! rag for hotel rooms and tourist bureaus Done right - the whole thing could pay for itself

  • Dianne Coffey
    May 31, 2011 - 18:26

    The questions that need to be addressed are: Is downtown St. John's family/child friendly or is it going to become an area families stay away from. I frequent several restaurants, coffee shops, gifts stores and a favourite shoe store and I very often have my grandchild with me. As a responsible adult I don't allow my grandchild to view inappropriate cites on the computer, shows on TV or books. Why would I then frequent areas that openly advertise sex. The ads regardless of content need to be displayed in a manner that leaves downtown St. John's open to everyone. So are the ads on the poles across the downtown area or limited to specific areas. A further question: how does it affect the local businesses when some of us may feel redirected in our shopping and dining habits.

  • Dwayne
    May 31, 2011 - 08:55

    I have worked in the industry for a few years a while back, and the bottom line is no matter what your advertising, there is freedom to do so. However, the taste of these signs can be controlled. The stripe clubs can advertise there features, but have to do so in good taste. So why doesnt the City take this route to have the signs changes, to tastful, and limit the size of the signs. Mandatory 8 x 10. They can also change the nature of the signs, no nudity, no depicting of sexual acts. There are ways to control it, just have to be creative.

  • Percy
    May 31, 2011 - 08:53

    My, oh my, what are the city of St.John's Councillors going to talk about next. These photos of semi nude women are not porn... Just look at any Sears or other catalogs, and you will see women half dressed.. They are making a mountain out of a mole hill..... It is 2011 not in the day of Queen Victoria.. Get a life....

  • tom
    May 31, 2011 - 08:36

    All the posters make the downtown look dirty, especially when they get wet and torn. Do away with the pole advertising and create a website, or page off the city website, where these ads can be posted if people want to know what is going on -- or create a large board, in a few different areas of town for the groups to post. Either way, make downtown more appealing.

  • Br
    May 31, 2011 - 08:28

    The 3 ladies on council should just walk across the street and ask the owner to keep the advertising off the street til it gets dark, assuming the owner is reasonable. If he/she is not, park a few cop cars outside the door for a while. After that, the ladies can stand outside the door with cameras for a while. Then see how long the advertising stays up.

  • steve
    May 31, 2011 - 08:20

    So Len, Let's punish all the small time theatre productions, the summer festivals, the many many bands performing all types of music, the non-profit community groups, the people with lost cats for God's sake, who are trying to advertize their shows or issues by removing the right to put posters on poles, just to take a smack at the strip clubs. The strip clubs are money machines - they will purchase paid advertizing elsewhere in the downtown if you try to ban posters, but the all the others will simply be out of luck, because their margin of survival is so small that they can only afford free advertizing (and it's not even free - printing posters is actually an expense, and in some cases a significant one).

  • Christopher Chafe
    May 31, 2011 - 08:18

    To Debbie Hanlon.......so in theory you are saying that here in St. John's for a local bar/band/artist to get exposure they MUST plaster every bloody utility pole in the Downtown area? Anna, advertising bologna being on special is no different in walking downtown and seeing the same poster for some local band on ever utility pole.

  • ROD
    May 31, 2011 - 08:06

    HAH -- "BOLOGNA"!

  • Len
    May 31, 2011 - 07:58

    Enact by-law measures to curb the posting of advertising on utility poles or boxes, e.g mail boxes, newspaper or utility boxes. As far as the neon signs are concerned, another by-law will allow people to advertise but the lettering and background must be black on white or white on black only.

  • Anna
    May 31, 2011 - 07:32

    I don't find the poles offensive what really bothers me is the neon signs out in front of all the stores driving up Torbay Road you can count over 40 signs and they are a complete eyesore. What is the city's policy for these signs. do we really need to know bologna is on special? City Council should enact a bylaw to limit these signs as they are becoming more prevalent.