Take the Screen Down - How Would You Feel?

Chosen as a 'Top letter' from amongst hundreds of complaint letters and emails received about the giant digital billboards at BC Place Stadium: 

Subject: 'Take the Screen Down - How Would You Feel?'

To: Pat Bell - BC PavCo Minister, (or his Deputy Minister…or his staffer who reads this and thinks it might be good enough to run up the flagpole),

How would you feel if someone installed a giant flashing screen right out front of your living room window that not only affected you and your family’s well-being, but the property value of your home? How would you feel, if you then found out, that it had been installed illegally?!

Incredulous? Frustrated? Angry? Surely you would assume that your municipal and provincial government would take the necessary steps to correct this untenable situation.

I find it truly amazing that your office is DEFENDING this aberration, placing the rights of advertisers and multi-nationals ahead of those of the tax-paying and voting citizens of Vancouver. Operating a Crown corporation as if the Crown served interests other than those of the people of Vancouver and British Columbia.

We all speak of the new challenges placed on us as urbanites – drive less, take public transport, use less energy, reduce our footprint. To do this, many thoughtful and responsible people of BC have chosen to live in the downtown Vancouver core. In order to live within walking distance of their workpace, in order to inhabit a 1000 square feet condo instead of a 3000 square foot cottage lot…in order to live in a SUSTAINABLE way.

Your government has encouraged this choice through its carbon tax regulation. The city has encouraged this choice through its progressive zoning bylaws.

But by allowing PavCo to flaunt city bylaws and impose their ridiculous screen on the thousands of hard-working and law-abiding citizens who have INVESTED in BC and settled their families into these sustainable glass condo units, you are making the sustainable choice un-liveable.

So instead of brushing aside the complaints as we normally do (“oh those NIMBYs”)…THINK about what’s important to Vancouver, to BC. THINK of a reasonable solution. Do we really need more flashing ads? How much of PavCo’s annual revenue comes from renting time on the screen? What could the city offer PavCo as a compromise for them to remove the sign? Surely there are larger fish to fry (larger economic issues) between the city and the stadium, through which a deal could be made. Surely another use could be found for the screen, inside the stadium (or as a beacon to extra-terrestrial life ;) .

In any case, screen revenues will drop as more and more people boycott the products that are advertised on it. The sharper business minds at the companies involved will recognize that better advertising options exist and that they don’t want to sully their products in this controversy.

And come election time, your government will need all the support it can get to obtain another mandate from the people of BC. Urban ridings will matter. Bad press will matter. Municipal relations will matter. Do you really want the piddling revenues of an embarrassing giant screen to become a factor in the races for critical urban seats? Do you think Premier Clark does?

So yes, I agree with all the OBVIOUS reasons noted below on why the sign should come down. But more so, I believe that this is a no-brainer from a political and business point of view. I mean geez, just to avoid the headache (and costs) of the inevitable class-action lawsuit!

One last point. I develop utility-scale windfarms. I know all about public opposition. I know all about NIMYism. This isn’t NIMBYism. This was a mistake. Made by people who didn’t think about impacts. By people who didn’t execute a visual impact study. By people who didn’t consult locally. By people who are now trying to cover their asses.

So let’s all take a deep breath and admit a mistake was made and put on our thinking caps and find a reasonable solution.

And take the giant screen down now.

You know it’s the right thing to do.

Thanks for your consideration and very best regards,