Pay for public privies, not public art

Allan Bonner is planning consultant who has had enough of sidewalks that are crowded with giant scultpures. He says the requirement that developers fund public projects when they build a new condo or townhouse complex has resulted in some questionable sending. He'd rather new loos, than new art.
Toronto's rainbow tunnel mural mysteriously appeared above a pedestrian underpass alongside the DVP in 1972. It is now sanctioned as public art and maintained by volunteers and a non-profit art restoration group. (Anthony Delacruz/Sotheby's)

Walk through any growing Canadian city and you can expect to come across an assortment of art, because most major cities require developers to fund public art with each new development.

These "percent for art" programs ensure regular funding for public art in urban life. Toronto and Calgary, for example, require that developers contribute one percent of the gross construction cost of a new development to public art projects. In exchange, developers usually receive negotiated benefits, such as height and density bonuses.

But not everyone sees this as a good trade-off.

Allan Bonner has consulted on a number of planning and public policy issues and he's at work on his next book, called "Safer Cities". He says he has a better idea for how to spend those developer dollars—pay for public toilets, not public art.