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Spotted: Disinformation Pillars

Astral Media's blocky advertisements get schooled—literally—by annoyed civilians.

SPOTTED BY: Eli Singer, followed up and photographed by Kyle Bachan

WHERE: College and Bathurst streets

WHEN: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.; photographed Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

WHAT: On Saturday afternoon, some unknown/heroic Torontonian(s), clearly fed up with Astral Media’s enormous info(less) pillars that have been sprouting up around the city, decided to take a stand. Two blackboards, which anyone can use and contribute to, have been draped over both sides of the Astral ads, complete with trays of chalk. Passersby, taking up the cause, haven’t been shy in using them.

Spotted features interesting things our readers discover in their journeys across Toronto. If you spot something interesting, send a photo and pertinent details to


  • I_am_redout

    a little ridiculous… Vandalize something to state a point?

    • georges

      I don’t see any vandalism… there is clearly a chain at the top holding them up. Someone just needs to come by and take them off, no harm done.

      Making a point with creativity and without vandalism, that’s a good thing.

    • ife

      Unless somebody says something against it we’ll have to live with our sidewalk space used up for the sake of corporate interest…

    • Anonymous

      The pillars vandalize public space for a less noble reason.

  • Mary T Hynes

    This is what an info pillar should look like.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t understand… is it an ad for a map company?

      • Mary T Hynes

        No. This is what the city of Stockholm puts up for people to use around the city.

        • Booblyboob

          I love straight responses to sarcastic rhetorical questions.

  • Jason Maggiacomo

    Personally I think the marketers should learn from this. Why not make your ad display an actual chalkboard. Just make your logo or banner at the top of it. You can still advertise to a community while giving something back to them in the process. It would actually sell better then a big useless banner.

    • Anonymous

      People might be tempted to write stuff like “Bell sucks” (or worse) (or better).

      • Anonymous

        Like not having a chalk board stops anyone. I’m really surprised people haven’t already used marker all over these ads already.

    • Mary T Hynes

      Why not actually give information?

  • Danny

    The boards were taken down today just before 3 PM. Drag.

  • Matt

    What crime are these things committing that is so horrible? Do you think money for public services just materializes out of the sky? I agree that calling them “info pillars” is laughable, but I have no problem with them if they are driving revenue for the city… you might have heard we’re kinda in debt…

    • Corey Sullivan
    • ife

      astral has failed to live up to many promises made when they won the contract for torontos street furniture, like ‘millions of dollars in revenue from advertising” in the garbage bins and newsstands, which after many years has still not been implemented (which is good though), and many newsstands have not even been installed yet, and there definitely arent enough garbage bins in the city.

      • Anonymous

        Astral’s contract also says they are to add 50 bike racks per year. Installing the Disinformation Pillars demolished at least 5 and probably more like 20 post-and-rings. So that’s another thing they’re not living up to.

    • Anonymous

      Let’s bring back the VRT, double existing fines, and ditch these pillars instead.

    • Anonymous

      Their placement tends to block pedestrian traffic since they were placed at 90 degrees to the sidewalk. It’s only a matter of time before someone speeding along on a bike, skateboard or roller blades either crashes into one or knocks a pedestrian into one. The potential for serious injury is large.
      As for being info pillars, there’s no useful info on them except to call the 311 service at the city — which costs us money. When the first ones were put up (the triangular ones) the promise was they’d point out local points of interest and maybe supply a little info about the neighbourhood.
      Councillors at the Public Works Committee last week admitted they goofed when they speedily approved these right before their summer break last July.

      • James

        The one at college/bathurst is dangerously close to the street/bike lane!
        As I was riding by, I was afraid I would hit someone stepping out from behind it.

  • Posterer

    To be honest, I’m surprised these haven’t been postered over already for movies at Reg Hartt’s

  • SnapOutOfIt
  • Eric26

    I’m just

    • Eric26

      …glad that I don’t know how to post a comment on the interwebz. Also, that they removed their pillar on Richmond St between Church and Jarvis. It was right next to a Bixi station and it blocked one’s view of oncoming traffic, which made riding your bike on to the street pretty dangerous.

  • Matt king

    AMAZING! My girlfriend and I had a similar idea! Glad to see someone did something about this lack of information. More people should do stuff like this.

  • advocate for the public realm

    What are legal mechanisms for removing these signs? They are eye sores.