Victoria mayor wants newspaper boxes 'filled with garbage' gone from downtown
'They are unsightly clutter,' says Downtown Victoria Business Association
The mayor of Victoria is calling for the removal of newspaper boxes from the city's downtown streets, saying they're no longer needed and often filled with garbage.
Mayor Lisa Helps and councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe are presenting a motion to take the boxes away at the urging of the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), which calls them "sidewalk clutter."
In a letter to the mayor and to council, the DVBA says that it frequently has to pick up magazines scattered "by careless or mischievous people."
It also claims the boxes are often covered with graffiti.
"They are unsightly clutter which contributes to the perception of some visitors that downtown is 'messy,'" the letter says.
The DVBA also says the boxes take up sidewalk space that has become especially important for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the mayor's motion, the boxes have become obsolete with the use of the internet and libraries.
"These boxes are no longer needed and most are often empty or filled with garbage," the motion says.
Helps and Thornton-Joe argue that because there is no fee or licensing for companies to set up the boxes, they are profiting from public space for free while small businesses have to pay fees for sandwich boards on sidewalks.
The motion, which goes before council next Thursday, wants municipal staff to ask the companies to remove the newspaper boxes from city-owned property, or for staff to remove them if the companies refuse.