Transport Canada detains False Creek floating billboard

Transport Canada has detained a 12-meter wide illuminated floating billboard that has been drawing the ire local residents.

“The vessel has been detained pending its registration and subsequent certification as a commercial vessel,” Transport Canada says in a statement.

The agency says in order to obtain commercial certification, the boat must comply with both the Canada Shipping Act and marine safety regulations.

But it looks like the detention has nothing to do with the billboard itself – the agency says it’s not within its jurisdiction to decide whether the boat can operate with the signage on it.

“Cheap and Crass?”

The 12-meter wide illuminated marine billboard was launched this week, to poor reviews from False Creek residents.

Patsy McMillan, chair of the False Creek Resident’s Association says she’s already getting a lot of email about it.

“It’s pretty cheap and crass visual pollution of what’s supposed to be a quiet waterway.”

She says the lights are bright enough that they will shine into the homes of many people who live in the lower floors of condos and apartments in the area.

And she says she’s worried the boat might be just the first of many.

“If one can do it, why can’t 20 more? Where does it stop, up Burrard Inlet, Indian Arm?”


Burke Billboards, writes on its website “We take the beautiful waterways, the stunning skyline of Vancouver, and make it the perfect platform for you to grasp your audiences attention.”

The company, which began operating this month, writes that the boats will run seven days a week from 7am to 11pm, from English Bay to Science World.

The boats will travel false creek from 7am until 11pm every day / Burke Billboards webiste

It’s not clear yet how bright the advertisements are, but the company says they are visible from two kilometers away.

The company writes the billboard will reach an average of 10.5 million people a year, targeting festivals like the fireworks and tourist hotspots like Granville Island.

The website also says the Aboriginal-owned company will donate a portion of the advertising space to local small businesses and non-profits, along with cash donations to Native Youth of Vancouver.

Burke Billboards did not return an interview request.

Illuminating controversy

Projection screen approved at Telus Garden in June 2015 / Telus

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson says the city is looking into whether the sign is legal or not.

However Robertson also admitted it is outside the city’s jurisdiction.

“Technically it is federal on the ocean. We work cooperatively with the federal government when there are people squatting on boats in False Creek. That is an issue for water quality in False Creek. So we may be able to work something out. We are following that one closely right now.”

It’s not the first time an illuminated billboard has caused controversy in Downtown Vancouver.

The electronic billboards mounted on B.C. place have been a long simmering complaint of nearby residents, who say the bright lights shine into their homes.

B.C. Pavco eventually agreed to switch the signs off during evening hours.

And last June, plans to include 7.5 by 11 meter retractable projection screen on Telus Garden which would display “video art and community programming,” along with “limited tenant recognition,” despite vocal concerns from neighbours.



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