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NEWS (MAY 2017): Miles Nadal JCC submits electronic roof sign application

May 26th, 2017 · No Comments

Centre needs to address funding shortfall

By Clarrie Feinstein

The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (JCC) has resubmitted an application to erect a third party electronic advertising sign on the roof of its building at the southwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street.

In 2015, the City of Toronto’s Sign By-Law Unit refused the JCC’s first application because it broke all its bylaw requirements. The current proposal, which Toronto City Council will consider on May 31, is exactly the same.

“These bylaws were created for a reason”—Zoe Newman, Huron-Sussex Residents’ Organization

The sign would be 10 by 3 metres (three times the size of what is allowed), 2.5 metres away from the intersection (signs must be at least 30 metres away), and it would face the street and properties.

“New roof signs are prohibited in the city,” said Ted Van Vliet, manager of the Sign By-Law Unit. “Electronic signs are not permitted in residential districts — only commercial areas like Yonge-Dundas Square. This sign is high impact with variable light levels and is facing two arterial intersections and the size of the sign is visible from nearby residences.”

Ten people attended a community consultation at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church and Centre on April 20 to voice their concerns about the visual impact the sign would have on the neighbourhood.

“These bylaws were created for a reason,” said Zoe Newman, representing the Huron-Sussex Residents’ Organization (HSRO) at the meeting. “What concerns me is that no changes have been made to this proposal. Two years ago the same concerns were made by residents. This should be a collaborative process with community members and this proposal isn’t reflective of that.”

While the sign would provide the JCC with more funding, residents are worried that permitting it would set a precedent for future sign proposals that also do not follow the bylaw requirements.

Yet none of the residents from the buildings the sign would impact most were at the community meeting to provide comment.

The sign would have electronic moving advertisements that would change approximately every 10 seconds. The JCC would advertise its community services, including the fitness centre, swimming pool, in-house theatre, Jewish schools, adult night classes, film programming, and child day care.

“We would have complete veto power over the third party advertising if it didn’t fit in with the mandate of the JCC or the community at large,” said Ellen Cole, executive director of JCC. “We would inform the neighbourhood traffic of what is constantly going on inside the building.”

The city receives approximately 10 to 20 sign proposals a year, most of which are not approved. Indeed, city council has granted only two third party roof signs since 2010.

The JCC has been in the Annex for over 60 years, and it serves both Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

“Our membership is made up of 50 per cent non-Jewish and 50 per cent Jewish members,” added Cole. “People always ask us if they have to be Jewish to be a member. A sign like this can really show that we provide services for everyone. It’s a Jewish centre and community centre.”

The JCC is entering a period of uncertainty with sponsorship, leaving them with few available options to provide substantial revenue.

“We will lose our sponsorship from United Way next year, losing $100,000,” said JCC representative David Sadowski at the community meeting. “This will be the first year the JCC will be in deficit. Having this third party sign will bring us in a revenue of $100,000 annually without having to increase membership prices or cut programming.”

“It’s an innovative and entrepreneurial way for us to get revenue,” said Cole. “People can say no all they want, but what alternatives do they have? This is the best option we’ve got.”


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