Stopping problematic poster placement

Cindy Titus

Misplaced posters are wreaking havoc on the beauty of Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood and the West End Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) is on a mission to stop it.

On Feb. 21, the BIZ – via their website – asked the public to begin posting posters exclusively on BIZ bulletin boards.

The organization argues the interests of neighbourhoods would better be served through avoiding poster placement on trees, walls and telephone poles.

Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the BIZ, says street posters cause significant damage when posted on anything other than the boards.

As a result, the West End area is left looking unsightly.

“We are working really hard to make the West End look attractive and approachable,” she said. “Those posters don’t do anything to improve the state of the West End.”

Cardwell-Hoeppner also notes that poster removal is costing the city significant resources.

“(Manitoba) Hydro and the city are out here (in the West End) repainting poles all the time,” she said. “That doesn’t need to happen. People can put their posters in other places.”

Annually, the BIZ spends $8,000 to $10,000 on poster removal and each removal day creates several garbage bags of waste.

According to Cardwell-Hoeppner, this does not include the cost of repair to surfaces damaged by posters, which is difficult to quantify.

Tammy Melesko, a communications officer for City of Winnipeg, says posters, for the most part, do not usually cause damage.

Posters don’t do anything to improve the state of the West End.

Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director, West End BIZ

“Basically, the posters do not cause structural damage to places where they are placed,” she said via email. “The city will remove posters only if the content is offensive or inappropriate.”

According to Winnipeg’s Handbills, Posters, and Temporary Signs on Streets Bylaw, posters cannot be placed if they “cause damage to property, including trees or structures within a street.” Furthermore, posters can only be mounted with clear adhesive tape.

Cardwell-Hoeppner contends that next to no one follows this bylaw.

David Schellenberg, music promoter at Lo Pub & Bistro in the HI Winnipeg Downtowner Hostel at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Kennedy Street, believes that the way in which posters are mounted is a part of the problem.

“I hate it when people use that wheat paste on posters,” he said. “That’s what’s ruining all the poles. Whenever you see remains of a poster on a pole, it’s because someone has used wheat paste.”

Cardwell-Hoeppner sees posters as an inefficient advertisement medium and encourages using the Internet as an environmentally friendly alternative.

“When you want to market something, you look for your target audience and find the best value,” she said. “In the winter, people are walking quickly to get out of the cold. How many people look at posters on poles? Try using Facebook and Twitter more.”

Schellenberg thinks posters are still an important way for artists to advertise.

“I do think posters are still relevant,” he said. “They just have to be used effectively. Its all about location. I’m not going out to old folks homes or anything to advertise bands.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)

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