That was the case in 1999 when I wanted to know the identity of the person(s) who complained about my election signs as they awaited pick-up at the printer. (See blog 03/12/12) Back then, complainants’ anonymity was closely guarded, guaranteed, and I never was able to confirm with certainty that the source was a rival candidate for the city council seat.
Now I’m off the phone with someone at Tridel, whose illegal rooftop sign has been wedged solidly in my craw since the day of its installation six months ago.
She tells me that the project manager asked her to phone to determine the nature of my complaint.
“How did you get my number?” I ask. No clear answer there. Someone gave it to the project manager.
The Tridel assistant doesn’t think the sign is illegal. I explain to her that I have conversed with Robert, the guy at the city who knows this stuff chapter and verse. His team boasts an impressive 90 per cent compliance rate when it comes to the removal of rooftop signs. The regulations came to be in 2010. They were drafted with developers and city staff working together. Tridel was one of the developers at the table. Surely , in helping to design it and investing employee time in the exercise, Tridel was aware of Toronto’s sign bylaw. The thing’s only three years old!
I suggest to the employee that she speak to Robert. “I shouldn’t be in the middle of this,” I said. “I’m the complainant. You should be dealing with the city.”
She tells me the Metrogate condo project, where people now reside, is “a construction site”. You still need a permit, but why am I the one telling her this? That would be the job of the councillor. Hmmmmm ...
Here’s what I think happened:
Instead of making an easy inquiry on my behalf to city staff about the legality of the vexing sign, the local councillor’s aide made an inquiry to the developer. After many months I went independently to city staff through the main switchboard, and that’s how I met Robert. I knew through Robert that investigators were to visit the site today.
I was phoned at 4 pm. The project manager, I’m assuming, received his surprise afternoon callers. My Tridel contact, in all likelihood, obtained my phone number and knowledge of my complaint from the councillor’s aide.
I know Robert respects the anonymity of complaints. We talked about that. You can feel completely at ease making reports about illegal rooftop signs, or any other matter, to city departmental staff. I think the problem here is one of a political staffer referring my complaint to a powerful developer who might want to squash me like a bug.
Robert’s department receives one complaint a day, a total of 260 a year.
It tells me I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who feels a skyline should be unfettered by garish displays of commercialism and condo ads yelling from great distances at the neighbourhoods the new buildings surround.
If you have a rooftop sign peering at you or big banner advertising on a bridge disturbing your view, you can report it to 3-1-1 and have it looked into. Unless approved, these signs are in violation. At that point, the offender is expected to remove the sign or apply to make it legal within 14 days.
The developer's rep says she will get back to me next Wednesday. My friend says I should file a report with the city’s integrity commissioner. I’ve written this blog in lieu.