A motion to remove newspaper boxes from downtown Victoria will be introduced this coming Thursday, as they continue to fall apart across the city.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association says they wrote a letter to council citing their declining condition, unauthorized placement, and use of valuable space.

Jeff Bray, the association’s executive director told CHEK, the newspaper boxes aren’t being used anymore and are taking up valuable space.

“They are not really being used anymore,” he said. “They are also not permitted under any permits or bylaws and they are starting to look a lot ragged. So the request from our members was to have the city look at that and probably have them removed.”

Bray said as the pandemic continues, the space where newspaper boxes often sit is valuable as it allows for improved physical distancing and could open up room for more of the city’s temporary patios.

“That sidewalk space is more important than ever,” he said. “We are approaching 70 applications that have been approved for patios. Victorians love it.”

Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe tried to get rid of the bins years ago.

“They are no longer being used, or they are begin used for garbage cans, and the containers are being kept up, they are getting tagged they are getting broken,” she said.

She and the mayor plans to put a motion forward to council also pointing to the fact the boxes never had to get permission to be there – something company’s need to obtain in order to install things like sandwich boards street-side.

“They have to have a permit and pay a fee, and that’s for advertising,” said Thornton-Joe. “So when you look at this, a bunch of this is advertising as well, without one having to follow any policy.”

She says the motion will look to ask for the owners to remove them before city staff take them away.

“We [will] let the companies know that they can remove them if they want to keep them, and then we can ask staff when they are emptying the garbage bins to maybe they take these away,” Thornton-Joe said.

Thornton-Joe also said she is still focusing on larger issues in the city, and hopes it will be a quick motion that will pass.

But some feel the boxes still being filled with papers should still around.

“We don’t use the Monday Magazine anymore, and there are a lot of trashy boxes,” said Jenny Ellsworth, a local. “But the ones that are in use, I think they should stay. I can grab one have a coffee, I don’t have to go to the grocery store or library.”

Julian Kolsut