News / Edmonton

We want Churchill Square, not Times Square: Edmonton city planner

Administration mulls ban on digital signs in the popular public gathering space.

A fisheye view of Edmonton's Churchill Square.

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

A fisheye view of Edmonton's Churchill Square.

Edmonton is no New York City, so Churchill Square doesn’t need to look anything like Times Square, say city planners who want to keep digital billboards out of the popular gathering space.

“It’s really about maintaining and respecting those public spaces,” said senior planner Travis Pawlyk, about new proposed rules that would bar digital signs from the area, and prevent nearby buildings from bombarding people with flashy ads.

Later this month city planners will recommend city councillors approve the rules.

“This is a space where it’s about interactions with people where we have this social atmosphere, and not having ads be intrusive to that atmosphere,” Pawlyk said.

“The surrounding buildings in the Square itself are home to our very public and important institutions.”

But not everyone likes the proposed changes.

Oxford Properties, which operates City Centre Mall, expressed concerns about the proposed rules, according to a city report.

Pawlyk said the company wanted to have the ability to plaster the flashy signs on the building’s east side facing the square.

“They’re still opposed on not being able to do it,” he said. “But they still have an opportunity to have digital signage on all other facades (not facing the square).”

Representatives from Oxford weren’t available to comment on the matter by press time.

Zakera Sultan, who visits Churchill Square every afternoon for fresh air and sunlight, is in favour of the plan.

“It’s a human space,” she said. “It’s like centre of the city where the people meet the government. Having all those signs would just be too New York City, where we want to be just a little more laid back and simple.”

City councillors will discuss the proposed rules on May. 29.

How the rule would work

The changes would mean no digital billboards facing Churchill Square on 100 and 99 Streets, and 102 and 102A Avenues.

Digital signs already in place, like the one on the Citadel Theatre, won’t be affected by the changes. Festival or event organizers will also still be allowed to use digital signs.

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