Motion before city council on Monday
Over a dozen transport truck trailers have taken up billboard duty along a section of the 400 highway just north of Innisfil Beach Road. Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner/Postmedia Network
Ontario's Transportation Ministry needs to get moving and remove trailer advertising littering the Highway 400 corridor near Barrie, says Mayor Jeff Lehman.
Councillors will consider a motion Monday to ask the MTO to get on the stick and give the city a date when the removal begins.
"I don't think they are an attractive gateway to the city and I feel they are a potential distraction to drivers," Lehman said. "To my knowledge, these types of signs are not allowed anywhere along the provincial highway system, but this is an MTO area of regulation and responsibility."
The signs are on the east side of the 400's northbound lanes, south of McKay Road.
He says the trailer billboards have been there since at least last spring and the city has received about 20 complaints.
Lehman said city staff have been in touch with the MTO since early in the summer, and in August spoke directly to Minister Steven Del Duca's office about the problem. The mayor has also had e-mail exchanges with ministry staff in recent weeks.
He said the MTO needs to be pressured to remove the trailer advertising.
"I believe they are on a private property," Lehman said. "However, as they face Highway 400 rather than a municipal road, they are within MTO's zone of control."
Ministry officials said Thursday they have heard the complaints and are doing something about the situation.
The MTO's Astrid Poei said all signs within 400 metres of a provincial highway require sign permits from the ministry.
"At this time, we have been in touch with the property owner and are seeking voluntary compliance," she said.
"The ministry has identified billboards across the province that do not comply with the corridor signing policy and will be looking to intensify efforts to enforce (it)."
Under the ministry's current policy, third party billboards are not permitted along 400-series highways. Only first party advertising relating to goods or services sold or provided on-site is permitted.
Under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, the MTO has the authority to remove signs that do not comply with the corridor signing policy.
Signs must also follow the ministry's corridor signing policy, which sets out what type and size of signage is permitted.
This city motion is an item of discussion on Monday's agenda.
If eventually approved by city council, the resolution will also be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario and Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth.
Lehman said it's his understanding that Hoggarth has already been talking with the Ministry's Regional Office about the concerns and complaints.