When Castlegar gave a variance to Castlegar Toyota for their digital billboard, neither City staff or council considered that there might be good reason for having a bylaw spelling out the limits for commercial signs. Instead, they happily approved what would have to be one of the ugliest signs in the Kootenays, with the promise from Toyota that it would be used to promote “community events”. In fact, I’m not quite sure what is worse, the lights from Toyota fronting Columbia Avenue, the digital billboard, or the fact that the design of these two items was apparently too difficult to coordinate to ensure that there were no conflicts.
Several communities have banned digital billboards outright, the most recent being Denver earlier this month. Other places have put a moratorium on them pending a federal study on whether they distract drivers. At least two other cities and two states are studying moratoriums.
The main issue arising from decisions like Castlegar’s is that it puts advertising, marketing and profitability before streetscape, resident concerns and potentially even health and safety of drivers through distraction.
Apparently there are few limits to what we shall endue for the sake of capitalism.