A recently-installed advertisement for DoorDash, promoting the delivery of McDonald’s meals via the U.S.-based service, has drawn the ire of the Inglewood BIA.
That advertisement, they said, is just one of many that the BIA has taken issue with over the past several years in their attempt to retain the historic character of the community.
“Third-party advertising signs are not, and this is the wording in the bylaw, are not appropriate as they provide additional visual clutter that may detract from the local businesses in the immediate vicinity,” said Rebecca O’Brien, Executive Director for the Inglewood BIA.
She said that advertisements like it have a place in the city, but not on the pedestrian entry spot to the historic Edwardian business blocks that make up the heart of Calgary’s oldest community.
“It’s the first thing that you see, it’s very visual, and it’s a specific ad that’s for vehicles. So it’s not about a pedestrian Main Street,” O’Brien said.
“The historic character of Inglewood is the number one draw to the area… Inglewood retains its vibrancy because of that historic feel and form, and it’s essential to the economics of the street.”
Not about NIMBYism, said BIA
O’Brien said this has nothing to do with NIMBYism, but rather it’s about supporting local businesses — over those which are not local — on one of Calgary’s main streets.
“Understanding that there is value real value to appreciating the historic feeling from a main street like 9 Avenue, that’s for everybody in the city—that’s for all the visitors, that’s for everyone,” O’Brien said.
“There’s nothing wrong with protecting the economy and the vibrancy of a main street. The role of the BIA is to promote the business area, it’s not to promote McDonald’s on the business area.”
She said that in over 5,000 kilometres of roads in the city, just 0.33 per cent of those are pedestrian-prioritized roadways and that it’s worth preserving the pedestrian character and quality for visitors walking through the district.
It’s something she said that she’s currently working on with existing third-party advertiser Pattison Outdoor Advertising. O’Brien’s wants to ensure the pedestrian-focused character of the neighbourhood is retained.
O’Brien said that the issues regarding TPAs are not just limited to business owners putting up advertisements on their buildings.
“The BIA has been questioning the city on the advertising on the transit benches along the main street,” she said.
“It’s a deal with Farwest to subsidize transit, and that’s fine, obviously transit requires additional funding… but the public realm advertising, that’s something they need to take a close look at as well. Those benches are situated specifically for vehicles—the angle, they’re not seating areas for people.”
Bylaw requires development permit approval for third-party signs in Inglewood
Under the City of Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw, third-party advertising signs in Inglewood have required the approval of a development permit for their placement since November 1992.
The City of Calgary’s development permit approval system showed that no permit was sought, or approved for the sign, prior to its installation.
In a statement made to LiveWire Calgary, the city said that the development inspection team investigated the site, and determined that the DoorDash third-party advertising sign did require a development permit to remain.
“At this point, The City has directed that the property owner and the sign company owner remove the signage or obtain the appropriate development permit,” said the City of Calgary.
“These situations provide us an opportunity to remind property owners, who are interested in posting signage on their private property, that they can reach out to us and verify if they need a development permit.”
Ace Burton, the advertising firm behind the sign, said that they had been in contact with the City of Calgary, and had discussed and resolved the issue with “appropriate members appointed by the City of Calgary.”
A representative for the property owners declined to comment for this story.
Enforcement not the preferred route by the BIA
The City of Calgary said that over the past three-years, they’ve fielded 61 complaints of infractions of the Land Use Bylaw, and that eight of those complaints have been about signage.
“Signage in this context includes sandwich boards, bold signs, window signage, electronic display and any other signage placed on private property,” said the city.
O’Brien said that the BIA would much rather work with business owners and landlords to educate them about the historic character of Inglewood and the requirements of the bylaw.
“It’s always preferable to come to an understanding,” she said.
She pointed to a similar situation with another business owner, which had an advertising mural painted on one of their buildings.
“Not only do we come to an understanding, and they removed the mural promptly because we raised the flag about it, they have now contributed funds to a mural project that will be on that Fair’s Fair wall.”