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Author Topic: ON: Regarding ads and distractions on 400-series  (Read 3354 times)


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ON: Regarding ads and distractions on 400-series
« on: August 07, 2018, 01:45:58 PM »

Hello, I direct this question to cbeach40. Anyone else can chime in if they know the answer.

As we know, the MTO on the 400 series highways has a very strict policy regarding advertising due to ads being a distraction to drivers.

As a result, this of course results in seeing practically no billboards or sky high establishment towers (barring the strange Milton example, but I guess it's far enough off the road) as you see in other jurisdictions.

So basically what I'm asking regards Canada's Wonderland.

When the park is open they operate a ride called Windseeker which at night is illuminated with a distracting light pattern. Is Canada's Wonderland breaking any of these rules by this distraction? Similarly, Canada's Wonderland has a bright marquee sign while not in the right-of-way, is still bright and a distraction. If Canada's Wonderland can get away with this, why can't anyone else who wants to make an advertisement full of lights.

This is a dangerous scenario in my opinion, it's human nature to lose your attention and look at Windseeker if you're driving along Hwy 400, similar to the effect when you're in a dark movie theatre and someone in a row in front of you goes on their phone, as it emits a bright light.


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Re: ON: Regarding ads and distractions on 400-series
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2018, 11:04:18 AM »

Well, the short answers are:

  • Yes, signs within 400 m of a designated Controlled Access Highway are by permit only.
  • Private property owners typically are only permitted signs advertising their business, not billboards. In practice height is capped so you don't get the super tall pylon signs much. But since that sign is for Wonderland itself it's permitted.
  • Billboards are permitted within designated bush country along CAH. That's why 400, 11, 17, 69, etc in Northern Ontario has them.
  • There have been cases where electronic billboards have been recently installed along CAH. I will note that these instances have occurred on lands that are federally managed, so provincial control of it is less assured I'll say.
  • Wonderland does have a building permit and accepted traffic impact study to build and operate a theme park within the Hwy 400 corridor control zone. If they change the land use (the on-site hotel they're planning for example) or expand the footprint of the park/parking they would need to submit new traffic impact studies. But any new attractions within the existing park are covered under their blanket permission as they would not impact the park's existing finite capacity.
  • Any illumination to rides and attractions would not be considered advertising signs, just aesthetic features. Legally not really any different than a Christmas lights display.

TL/DR, lights on a theme park ride aren't considered signs so it won't fall under MTO's corridor control.

J N Winkler

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Re: ON: Regarding ads and distractions on 400-series
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2018, 12:23:46 PM »

Have any attempts been made in Ontario to use general nuisance laws (not advertising control laws specific to the highway system) to curb distracting lights that are visible from the roadway?
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini


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