Thursday, June 10, 2010

Poster Peril and Water For All

Sign of the Times?

That sound you heard last Wednesday was the book being thrown at three Guelph businesses for actions that they had nothing to do with. In another example from the “Sometimes I Don’t Think Government Knows What It’s Doing” file, comes the court case last week of the City of Guelph versus anybody that tries to promote their small-scale indie arts/awareness/charity event.

You see, the City of Guelph has a by-law regarding postering in that you’re only allowed to poster in three designated places downtown. Since everybody postering in the same three places is neither efficient nor effective, sometimes promoters like to put their posters up in numerous places so they can get the maximum eyeballs possible. But the City of Guelph seems to want to designate this as criminal, and as such brought the owner/operators of Ed Video Media Arts Centre, The Bookshelf and The Palace nightclub to court for the better part of the day last Wednesday.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to add here that I have a personal stake in this story given that I was one of the organizers of the event that was held at The Bookshelf Cinema. We took our lumps and reimbursed The Bookshelf their fine of $85 plus assorted processing fees, but Ed Video, an artist run organization that lives off fundraising and grant dollars had to eat the $250 fine. This despite the fact that contracts for use of their gallery space have a clause noting that the event runner will obey all city postering by-laws.

Perhaps most egregious though was the story behind the origin of The Palace’s fine. Basically, The Palace is out $100 because a young woman put up 11 posters for a charity fashion show for kids with cancer that she was putting on at the night club. And not only were there a mere 11 posters for a cause as benign as “kids with cancer” but from what one source tells me, the by-law officer was standing there watching and laughing as she was putting up the posters. He was quite content to not let her know that she was in the wrong.

Regardless the reasons and what-fors, the City’s grand total for the day’s court proceedings was less then $500. I realize that the city’s got cash flow issues, but didn’t I read a couple of weeks ago that Guelph-Wellington has 10,395 cases of defaulted fines from moving violations that comes out to a grand total of approximately $5.3 million? If something here seems hinky to you, you’re not alone. Why these groups? Why now? How can a city that portends to support the arts dump on the independents that give the city’s culture its diversity? All good questions, no good answers.

A W. We Can Get Behind

If you've been turned on to the joys of simple old tap water, and convinced that bottle water is a long con perpetuated by multinationals selling a resource you already pay for back to you, then you might interested in this. Now, thanks to the Blue W program, finding local restaurants, City facilities and businesses willing to fill reusable containers with municipal tap water free of charge is easy.

"Refill your reusable bottle—anywhere. It's really that basic." said Evan Pilkington, the Director of Blue W in a press release. "Guelph is a city full of people who appreciate tap water. Helping provide residents and visitors greater access to safe, clean municipal tap water is what Blue W is all about.”

The Blue W program is a not-for-profit initiative that lists locations in numerous Canadian cities, via computer connection or Smartphone application, where people can get free tap water in refillable containers. All you have to do is log on to or look for the Blue W at one of your favourite Guelph establishments; there are about 30 around town.

And if you need another reason to get off the bottle, there’s always an article published in the Globe and Mail a couple of weeks ago. I believe it was called “Bottled water has high level of bacteria, researchers find.” Happy drinking.

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