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.

Earth Hour Fail - Castlegar Toyota

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.

USA Today – More cities ban digital billboards

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.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

2 replies on “Digital Billboards”

  1. Columbia Avenue and the Opportunity for Effective Planning & Civil Engineering

    Letter to the City of Castlegar – May 14th, 2010

    ‘Million dollar alley’ drives Castlegar meeting – The Castlegar
    Source – May 12-2010

    His Worship the Mayor, Members of City Council, The CAO (and Senior

    I truly regret that, due to illness, I will be unable to attend the
    upcoming meeting regarding the road/highway from Columbia Avenue to
    the Blueberry/Grandview Heights Intersection.

    If I were able to attend,(and at the risk of being repetitious), I would make the point, again, that for a whole variety of reasons, including control of speed limits in and out of the Community; and, supporting effective access and egress to and from Grandview Heights, Twin Rivers Estates, 5th Avenue, the Industrial Park,
    Emerald Green, and other South Castlegar neighbourhoods …

    …the residents of Castlegar would be far better served if the City took
    over responsibiliy for the highway north of the Blueberry Intersection as an extension of Columbia Avenue.

    Yes, it is true, this would require a vigorous lobbying campaign from City Council and the Administration, directed at the Ministry of Highways, and strong local provincial voter-based, political advocacy actions … but the outcome benefits for the entire Community, and its future, would be well worth the effort.

    Thank you.

    (As always, a timely written response would be appreciated.)

    Raymond Koehler

    619 – 9th Avenue,
    Castlegar, BC V1N 1M5


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