City Council must say “NO” to TELUS’ new giant screen application: Concerned residents insist

Proposed Telus Garden light sign

Proposed Telus Garden light sign

(Update May 4: A staff report to Council is scheduled to go to Council on May 26 to decide if the application will be referred to public hearing. Report will be on-line a week before the meeting, with summary of public input.)

(Updated: Link to interview on CBC)
CityHallWatch is sharing this information from concerned downtown residents, based on their independent analysis. (Download and print PDF-format flyer here: Council say no Telus sign Feb 2015-rev).

Listen to interview David Cookson with CBC’s Rick Cluff, The Early Edition. Click image to hear sound file.CBC Early Edition image

(The proponents have powerful connections at City Hall and the ability to advertise and use their influence. Residents — not so much. So we are trying to balance the discussion a little bit.)

Previously we reported that “Westbank and Telus propose giant illuminated screen on West Georgia. Open House Feb 11th.”  The rezoning proposal is for a 7.5 m x 11 m media sign on the west facade of the building at 520 West Georgia Street, facing Seymour Street. The sign would be located between the 16th and 18th floors.

proposed area for signThe open house is over, and there has been no announcement when the Public Hearing will be held, but the City is accepting feedback until February 18 at this link here.

Some big questions: If Council approves this request, will it create a precedent resulting in more and more giant screens? Why should this request be allowed at all? And why should Telus and Westbank be given special treatment?

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City Council must say NO to TELUS’ new giant screen application

‘Application to Amend Sign By-law – 520 West Georgia Street’Telus Garden light sign Feb 2015 image REV

Here’s why:

    • Telus’ new proposed giant video screen is only two blocks away from the closest residential high-rise building (amongst others). In Telus’ own application, when addressing line-of-sight, Telus admits that ‘The Hudson’ at 610 Granville is only 176 meters away. Scores of families will suffer.
    • Telus is favouring corporate interests over family interests, this despite the pain and suffering that Telus has caused and is still causing to thousands of families living near Telus’ screens at BC Place. Screens and homes simply don’t mix under any circumstances, even when care is taken to mitigate the effects – Have we learned nothing?
    • Telus is misleading the public by claiming that the new giant screen is “only viewable in low light conditions” (which is incidentally the most invasive time of day for nearby residents). However, in Telus’ own application, Telus admits that they intend to run the screen during several daytime events such as the Sun Run.
    • Telus is misleading the public by claiming that the new giant screen will not feature advertising. All that will be required for Labatt to feature Budweiser ads (for example) will be for Telus to rent a single office at Telus Gardens to Labatt. In Telus’ own application, Telus admits that they intend to allow “brand recognition” (which precisely means advertising) on the screen for tenant businesses at Telus Gardens.

  • In the year 2015, no-one uses outdoor video screens to learn about community events – one would have to stand there staring for 15 minutes to glean anything valuable. The majority of people use their smart phones while others use the internet at home. People without internet access are generally made aware about upcoming events at the community centres that they frequent.
  • Telus is misleading the public by claiming that the intensity of the new giant screen will be “lesser than that of a handheld smartphone or laptop” by using the measure ‘nits’ to describe light intensity. What Telus is failing to explain is that ‘nits’ are a measure per square meter and so the bigger the screen the bigger the disturbance.
  • Telus is misleading the public by claiming that the disturbance caused by the new giant screen will be “exactly the same as that of normal lights from an office building”. This is completely ridiculous given that video screens themselves are dynamic (i.e. they move and flash) and are designed to draw your attention. Why else would anyone install a projection device on the outside of an office tower if not to draw people’s attention?
  • Exposure to flashing and dynamic (i.e. moving) video imagery must remain a voluntary activity for residents living in residential buildings nearby, not something that they are held captive to nightly.
  • Council recently passed a motion seeking a reduction in superfluous outdoor lighting in Vancouver. Telus’ new proposal flies directly in the face of this unanimously supported Council motion.
  • Telus has shown utter contempt for the City of Vancouver’s bylaws at BC Place where they continue to operate and earn the advertising revenues from their giant outdoor video screens. In 2012 the Mayor and Council unanimously passed a motion demanding that the BC Place screens be brought into compliance but Telus has ignored this request for three years. Companies that act deplorably should not be, and cannot be, granted special permissions by the City.

Send the City your comments: http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/520wgeorgia/feedback.htm

To contact the local concerned residents, write here: take.the.giant.screen.down.now@gmail.com.

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Formal details of the rezoning application are here on the City website:
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/520wgeorgia/

For further research, people may wish to browse the corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports from Telus: http://csr.telus.com/en/
And their comments about Community: http://about.telus.com/community/en/

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A motion by Councillor Elizabeth Ball proposing that the City of Vancouver adopt a new “Vancouver Outdoor Lighting By-law” was carried unanimously on February 3, 2015. Below we copy the actual text adopted.

Watch the video of Council discussion to see the enthusiastic support from several of our elected officials for this motion:

http://civic.neulion.com/cityofvancouver/index.php?clipid=3494170,014

MOTION ON NOTICE                         B.2

  1. Vancouver Outdoor Lighting By-law

MOVER: Councillor Ball
SECONDER:

Towards enacting a healthy, safe and energy efficient outdoor lighting by-law in order to reduce harmful outdoor lighting; set standards for outdoor lighting and provide for the designation of dark-sky preserves.

WHEREAS

  1. Careful management of outdoor lighting is necessary to protect the health, safety, energy, security, environment and general welfare of citizens. Until the turn of the nineteenth century, evening brought an end to many of mankind’s activities. The introduction of incandescent lamps dramatically increased the range of pursuits possible after dark. As the science of lighting evolved, technical advancements gradually outstripped the basic requirement of providing illumination simply for the task at hand. Today, in the case of outdoor lighting, there is growing recognition that the consequences are not always benign;
  2. Scientific evidence demonstrates that misdirected, unshielded, excessive or unnecessary outdoor night lighting has detrimental effects on humans, animals and birds. Energy is wasted when illumination is used excessively and inefficiently. The human eye automatically adjusts to the brightest light in view, and the glare from unshielded or excessively bright outdoor lighting can actually interfere with the clear perception of other objects in one’s field of vision;
  3. Inappropriate use of outdoor lighting can have a negative impact on the natural environment, interfering with normal patterns of activity, behavior and physiology of flora and fauna. Recent research has indicated that exposure to light at night can upset normal human circadian rhythms, thereby disrupting hormone secretions and weakening the body’s immune system;
  4. Cost-efficient means and practices exist through which appropriate use of shielded luminaires provide adequate night lighting that is safe and effective with minimal light trespass, glare, and sky glow;
  5. Vancouver City Council adopted the Clouds of Change report in 1990;
  6. Vancouver City Council adopted the Greenest City Action Plan in 2011;
  7. The City of Vancouver has adopted the British Columbia Building Code (By-Law No 10908), which in turn references the Energy Efficiency requirements of ASHRAE 90.1. The exterior lighting requirements outlined in Section 9 Lighting of ASHRAE 90.1 do not, however, specifically address Dark Sky issues;
  1. The City of Vancouver has adopted LEED Gold criteria for all new City buildings and, although LEED includes a possible point for Light Pollution Reduction, this is not a mandatory requirement;
  2. The City of Vancouver Bird Strategy Initiative and Design Guidelines includes recommendation 2.3 – “Explore solutions to the impact of light pollution on birds”;
  3. The International Dark Sky Association and the Illuminating Engineering Society have prepared a Model Lighting Ordinance to assist municipalities in the implementation of appropriate Dark Sky lighting legislation;
    [Note by CityHallWatch: Download that model ordinance here: http://www.ies.org/PDF/MLO/MLO_FINAL_June2011.pdf]
  4. Other jurisdictions including New York City and the State of New York have recently adopted Lighting Ordinances.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

  1. THAT City Council direct staff to consult with stakeholders, including industry, architects, lighting designers, naturalists, Council Advisory Committees including the Women’s, Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Committees, appropriate non-profit agencies and the general public, in order to develop recommendations for a Vancouver Outdoor Lighting By-law based on best international practices, with specific local recommendations and observations.
  2. THAT the purpose of this planned Outdoor Lighting By-law is to provide regulations for outdoor lighting that will:
  3. Permit the use of outdoor lighting with reference to the minimum levels specified in IES recommended practices for nighttime safety, utility, security, productivity, enjoyment, and commerce;
  4. Consider the inclusion of illuminated signs and their effects on the environment;
  5. Minimize adverse offsite impacts of lighting such as light trespass, and obtrusive light;
  6. Curtail outdoor light pollution, reduce sky glow and improve the nighttime environment for astronomy;
  7. Help protect the natural environment from the adverse effects of night lighting from gas or electric sources;
  8. Conserve energy and resources to the greatest extent possible;
  9. Limit light pollution in Vancouver in a cost-effective and socially feasible manner in order to protect public health, safety and the environment and yet still allow for artistic and creative design and events.

* * * * *

9 thoughts on “City Council must say “NO” to TELUS’ new giant screen application: Concerned residents insist

  1. Why did the owners of the Historic Lee building, at Main and Broadway, have to take their case in futility, to BC Supreme Court, for a dimly lit static billboard. It was on the 9th floor not the 18th as this is it wasn’t flashing video images into people’s homes, but in the end it was demolished after 60 years. Telus, it’s seems, will get there way to Amend our city’s sign Bylaw to achieve their end. Only 25% of the time will it show ads, sounds like Television ad percentage. But you can’t turn this behemoth TV off, even if you live in one of the 3 residential towers within 750 feet of it. Our by laws get amended for this, then advertisers will pile on. Screens everywhere. And our awesome liveable downtown becomes like Vegas. Nice place to Party but I wouldn’t want to live there. What happens in Vegas, really should stay in Vegas.

  2. What ridiculous nimbyism. This attitude makes me so angry. If you don’t like the Urban environment, then move. Don’t force your narrow minded, horribly puritanical preferences on the rest of us. I hope the City approves this, and I’m writing in support of it now..

    • Graham; Ha, puritanical? Not in back yard?? Does anybody but telus and its tenant ad partners wants an Ad screen in this backyard. Like anyone living or working across from this will be saying;”Oh nice, look they’re showing Ads up there now, awesome”?? Yeah right. Should corporations dictate what’s right for the public, push the City into amending perfectly valid Bylaws for their benefit only. I’m glad to hear you’re writing in support. That’s what this is all about. Participating, having your say.

    • NIMBY means that one is generally in favour of an idea, but NOT if it affects them directly. You will note that NONE of the people opposing this new giant video screen are EVER in favour of giant screens being built in front of people’s glass homes. Please don’t misuse words because then they just become meaningless.

  3. No one even notices the electronic billboard off Burrard Bridge for which there was such a huge outcry just a few years ago.

    The only real problem that I see is that it is an awkward location and there’s AN ABSENCE of sightlines to view the screen, because Scotia Tower is in the way and you’d have to crane your neck to see it from Telus Garden’s own plaza.

    The proper location for a big screen would be on the angled façade above London Drugs at Georgia & Granville.

    • I guess we both see this in a similar way. Not everyone is so “lucky” to have a such a great sightline, like all those living in the nearby towers or working in the scotia tower. I just question whether any at all would enjoy their lucky vantage point. My guess is, after years of nightly in your face repetive 3 storey tall video ads flashing in your face, they would wish for a city sign by law that puts citizens needs before advertisers. Like the bylaw we currently have which telus wants to amend.

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