The City Will Probably Start Selling Decommissioned Street Signs Next Year
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The City Will Probably Start Selling Decommissioned Street Signs Next Year

If all goes according to plan, scrap yards won't be the only ones who can buy Toronto's old signs.

Photo by AshtonPal, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by AshtonPal, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Street signs have long been prized as pilfered dorm-room trophies, but it looks as though there will soon be a way for Toronto’s law-abiding citizens to lay hands on them without actually committing a crime.

At its meeting yesterday, the City’s public works and infrastructure committee approved an idea so simple that it seems like it should have been implemented long ago: rather than selling decommissioned street signs for scrap, sell them to the public.

The signs to be sold would be street-name signs (so, not traffic signs). They’d be drawn from a pool of about 1,800 street signs the City replaces each year, of which only about 5 or 10 per cent are considered undamaged enough to justify resale. There are currently about 1,200 signs in reserve.

The idea still needs final approval from city council before it can go into effect, but City staff say the program could launch at some point in 2014.

The plan has changed a lot since it was first proposed by Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) in 2012. As of May, the City was thinking about selling the signs for a flat fee of $30 a piece. But then, after the idea got some publicity in the press, sign requests began pouring in at a rate of hundreds per day. Now, the recommendation is to let people bid on the signs through the City’s asset disposal contractor (which is basically an official auctioneer for surplus City property).

The proposed minimum bid is $100. The average scrap value for a sign is $15. So, that’s an $85 nostalgia premium, at minimum. And who knows how much the more popular street names will go for?