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Wide-format Printing: Producing Toronto’s street banners

The banners are printed on a scrim blockout material that is sufficiently durable for long-term outdoor advertising.

Serving up the city
As Cityscape’s client list grew, its staffing increased from two to four full-time employees and from three to four part-time installers. As for the printing technology, a 1.5-m (60-in.) wide ultraviolet-curing (UV-curing) flatbed printer was joined in 2015 by a durable aqueous ‘latex’ inkjet printer of the same size.

“We bought the latex printer to produce banners after submitting a bid to promote the 2015 Pan Am Games across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),” Dich explains. “That work was 
a real game-changer for us, as it got people’s attention beyond downtown Toronto. We now do work regularly for Mississauga, too.”

That said, focusing strictly on the Toronto market has proven highly lucrative for Cityscape because of the repeat nature of the work and the exclusivity of its particular medium.

“Not a lot of companies do this type of work because of the cost and effort involved,” says Dich. “We stay up-to-date with our documentation and safety training to ensure we have the necessary approvals. Competition isn’t much of an issue. Everything you see downtown is us!”

The company has been approved to work on Toronto Hydro poles, for example, which accounts for most of its inventory. The rest include Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and privately owned structures.

“The previous owners just plotted out all of the city’s poles in their heads,” Dich explains. “We’ve since developed a database that allows us to map all of the street poles in the city, right down to 1-m (3.3-ft) radius accuracy.”

Thanks to this tool, Cityscape can plot out new locations that have never been used for street banners before, such as along Kingston Road in the city’s east end. It also allows the company to keep track of poles affected by construction and road work.

“Whenever a pole is taken down, the banner is kept aside for us,” says Dich, “and usually it is replaced soon.”

Installations are handled at off-peak hours, usually in the middle of the night, when it is easiest to work at heights without causing disruptions.

“Our installation methods are mostly the same across the city,” says Dich, “but some business improvement areas (BIAs) have hardware built into the poles or can only accommodate smaller banner sizes.”

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