Greens pan Ford Government plan for revenue-generating highway billboards

“We need real vision to lead the province through tough challenges"

Premier Doug Ford’s suggested plan to put up revenue-generating billboards along Ontario’s 400-series highways gets a red light from Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

“We need real vision to lead the province through tough challenges, not roadside distractions copied from down south to make a quick buck,” Schreiner said in a statement on the party’s website. “As if the premier hasn’t made enough gaffes with stickers and license plates, he’s now getting into the billboard business.”

During an event in Kitchener Monday morning, Ford said he’s seen billboards along Interstate 75 in the United States, and that signs along Highways 401 or 400 could create substantial revenue for the province that could be used for transportation and education.

The premier also said a provincial focus on raising revenue was preferable to raising taxes. Ford said the government needs to start thinking like the private sector to generate more revenue.

Ontario’s Conservative government is scheduled to release its budget March 25.

“This is a worrying sign about the upcoming budget if the premier is more concerned with roadside gimmicks than tackling true emergencies like COVID-19,” Schreiner said.

Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the OPP Highway Safety Patrol, responsible for Highway 400 between Toronto and the Highway 11/400 split, declined comment on Ford’s billboards plan and if it could lead to more distracted driving.

“Obviously drivers need to always pay attention to driving,” he said. “There’s all kinds of distraction inside and outside the vehicle, and obviously the responsibility of the driver is to pay attention and make sure they are giving their full attention to driving and not becoming distracted by any other influences around them.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation could not be reached for comment. The MTO has 15 separate regulations pertaining to billboards, including the message, location, angle related to the highway, setback distance and permits.

feature image via Bob Bruton