Time of the signs
Mark McNeil
The Hamilton Spectator (Jul 25, 2006)

Sign, sign everywhere a sign,
Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.
Do this, don't do that,
Can't you read the sign?

City of Hamilton councillors say enough is enough. Like the Five Man Electrical Band before them, they are singing in indignation about gaudy messages blocking out the scenery.

And now, after two years of trying to get the chords right, the city is taking on the visual pollution with a new bylaw set for council approval next month.

Under proposed rules that would start in 2007, portable signs and telephone pole posters will face severe restrictions. Existing permanent signs that were built under previous regulations will be allowed to stay, but tough rules will govern the size and location of new advertisements.

This is probably a reasonable area of municipal bylaw-making given the fact that Hamilton is one of the last municipalities in the province to get tough on the clutter.

But one wonders if the city realizes exactly how big this monster is.

As fast as you can shut down one means of advertising, another one will appear, often from the most unlikely place.

Consider some interesting developments south of the border:
* US Airways is starting to sell advertising space on air sickness bags. Can flights out of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport be far behind?

* CBS has hatched an idea to promote its fall lineup by etching messages into eggs. It's being called eggvertising.

* Nickelodeon plans to print the cartoon images of SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer on packs of apples, pears, cherries and other edibles. "My goal is to have every fruit a kid would want to eat with a Nickelodeon character," says Sherice Torres, licensing vice-president at Nickelodeon.

When it comes to advertising signs, the writing is on the wall. Unfortunately, it's also on the floors, the ceilings and everywhere else you might imagine.