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Toronto City Council approves billboard tax

By Brittany Duggan

A seven-year campaign to pass a tax on billboard advertisers, which would raise money for arts initiatives across the city, was successful when a new bylaw was passed December 7th at Toronto City Hall. Originally scheduled for December 1st, the vote was delayed as the debate within city council stretched over days until a new bylaw governing billboards was agreed upon, with votes 29-12. Strong support from the arts community came largely from the Beautifulcity.ca Alliance, an organization serving over fifty local arts groups under the administrative umbrella of Schools without Borders. The tax to billboard advertisers will potentially create $9 million in revenue to be allotted to the general revenue stream of the city’s budget. The tax has yet to be put before the budget committee, who are set to meet during the 2010 budget process this winter to deliberate on the disbursement of funds to support art in the public sphere. Beautification and cultural projects from these funds could include public art, murals, sculptures, festivals, accessible programming, free admission and outdoor performances. The tax will be imposed starting in April 2010. For more information visit: www.beautifulcity.ca.

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