UPDATE: Transport Canada has detained the vessel, pending its registration as a commercial vessel – but says “It is not within Transport Canada’s jurisdiction to determine if the vessel can operate with a billboard.”
Crass. Garish. Obnoxious. All descriptions of a new form of ad space that is quite literally being floated in Vancouver.
A company called Burke Billboards has rigged a boat to carry 12-metre-wide LED billboards around False Creek. The response on social media has been immediate, and the City of Vancouver says it has received dozens of 311 calls from people complaining of light pollution.
Tara Smith took to social media to call the floating billboard a “new low” in advertising.
“It changes the feeling of False Creek,” Smith told Global News. “It’s a lovely place where you get paddlers and boaters and people enjoying the water and I don’t think that’s in keeping with the spirit of the [area].”
According to the Burke Billboards website, there are plans to run around the harbour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and reach hundreds of thousands of people a day.
In an email to Global News, the company indicated it is operating in compliance with all regulations governing waterways.
Owner Tara Burke said complaints are to be expected, but she is confident the relationship between the company and the public can be smoothed over. She promised to use the space for public service announcements like Amber Alerts and weather warnings.
The City of Vancouver says False Creek, like all waterways, is a federal responsibility and is looking into what authority it might have to act on behalf of people who have complained.