Photos by Downtown Victoria Business Association

One of the items on the Victoria city council’s agenda at their weekly Committee of the Whole meeting this Thursday will be deciding the fate of newspaper boxes in the downtown core.

A motion to consider asking companies to remove newspaper boxes from city property—or ask city staff to remove them if companies do not comply—has been brought forth by Mayor Lisa Helps and councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

The rationale for this motion is that most of these newspaper boxes stand empty or filled with garbage due to widespread use of the internet and the presence of libraries.

Further, the motion adds that newspaper companies have been placing these boxes in public spaces without paying a license fee, whereas small business owners are required to pay a fee for sandwich boards and have to have a licence.

These points were first brought up in a letter to city council sent by the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA).

“The DVBA Clean Team reports frequently needing to pick up magazines which have been scattered by careless or mischievous people,” reads the letter.

“There is rarely a workday where none of our workers have to remove graffiti from the boxes as they are a frequent target of vandalism.”

The organization further points out that the boxes are nothing more than obstacles taking up sidewalk space—an essential factor in allowing pedestrians to maintain physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council will discuss the motion to ask staff to remove or get companies to remove the newspaper boxes on Thursday, August 6.