Contrary to the notations on p. 24 of Addendum 2, the SI unit of luminous energy is the lumen, not the “lumin.”
Locked PDFs: The RFP and city publications flowing from it are public documents. The coordinated street-furniture program could not possibly be more public in its scope, since, as a solution in search of a problem, it proposes selling nearly every piece of street furniture, likely to a foreign national, for 20 years. Accessibility for people with disabilities is a nominal requirement of any successful design, though city staff are having trouble with the specifics.
- As such, why was the RFP and why were all addenda issued in untagged PDFs with security features enabled?
- Does the city understand that PDF password security can be broken in a matter of seconds?
- What outcome is the city guarding against by using password security? If it is piracy, can the city explain how public documents could be pirated, even conceptually?
- While content extraction for assistive technologies is enabled in the PDFs (perhaps accidentally), does the city understand the accessibility ramifications of producing documents filled with tables in untagged PDF format? Is the city aware that a free Microsoft Word for Windows plug-in can create tagged PDFs automatically?
- Does the city appreciate the inconvenience it has created for accredited vendors, who cannot even legitimately copy and paste sections of the document for later usage? How, for example, do city staff expect vendors to manipulate 300 pages of addresses of transit shelters when provided solely in locked PDFs?
- Does the city accept that there are no justifiable and incontrovertible reasons to publish documents in locked-PDF form?
The city is hereby requested to redistribute the RFP and all addenda, including any produced after 2006.12.04, in tagged PDF format with no security features or locks enabled.
“Information/wayfinding structures”: RFP p. 13 states that “The information structures are intended to address an identified need for pedestrian-oriented visitor information and map signage.”
- What evidence does the city have backing up this “identified need”? When and where was it “identified”? (Please provide the original written documentation.)
- Was it “identified” by the city parks department in its desire to sell off tiny squares of land to Astral for Info-to-Go pillars, two of whose three faces show advertising and whose placement exempts them from street-furniture guidelines? (The Info-to-Go pillars were grandfathered under an agreement with Parks, sidestepping any real public discussion of the claimed need or actual built form or utility of these structures. They are located on parkland that, surely by coincidence, abuts the streetscape and is indistinguishable from the streetscape to the average person. The contract for these “pilot” pillars expires in 2010.)
- Addendum 2, at A42, states that Info-to-Go pillars “are not part of this RFP” and that “only one of the 25 ... is located ity streets.” Why has the city chosen to downplay the fact that one arm of city government has unilaterally used a loophole to sell parcels of city property for advertising? (The ostensible purpose – “info to go” – is no more real than was the Eucan megabins’ ostensible function as garbage cans.)
- What is the exact location of the single pillar located on city streets?
- If the entire purpose of this exercise is to create a coordinated street-furniture program, why does p. 13 of the RFP specifically require that new “information/wayfinding structures” not conflict with Astral’s existing Info-to-Go pillars? Explain how grandfathering a competing advertiser constitutes coordinated street furniture.
Map dispensers: On p. 13 of the RFP, we are told that information/wayfinding “structures should have a coin-operated map dispenser and incorporate audio technology and scrolling LED screens.”
- Who keeps the money collected in the form of those coins? Will the price be set or regulated by the city? (A cost of $20 per map can be paid solely by coins.)
- Addendum 4, A21, states that, apart from washrooms, no form of street furniture may “impose a fee or charge any person for... use.” Yet the city recommends charging for maps. Which of these instructions are we to heed?
- What requirements will be imposed to keep the map supply stocked?
- What are the requirements for map coverage? Will the maps show the whole city, or the former City of Toronto, or just the relevant neighbourhood? How much advertising will be permitted?
- What “audio technology” does the city have in mind? Auto-spamming recorded commercials, of the sort found at gas stations? Is the city trying to articulate a requirement for full accessibility for blind and visually-impaired users, and if so, why wasn’t the city clearer on that topic?
- What requirements are there to duplicate information presented on “scrolling LED screens” in speech, Braille, tactile lettering, or other blind-accessible forms?
- Does the city really understand what “scrolling LED screens” are (versus crawling LED screens, for example)? What are the size limits of these “screens,” what are the brightness limits, what direction must they face or not face, and may they display advertising? (Text-only advertising is still advertising.)
- Who pays for the electricity incurred by “audio technology,” “scrolling LED screens,” and the proposed “touch-screen Internet, GPS, and Wi-Fi”?
- If “scrolling LED screens” should be provided, then why does Addendum 2, at A46, state that “dvertising on electronic or video signage boards is not contemplated”? (Does that mean it is forbidden or allowed?) Aren’t “scrolling LED screen” electronic signage?
- What is the dividing line between “video signage” advertising and “scrolling” advertising? Video can be made up of nothing but type. It can also be made up of still pictures that display for long durations (e.g., minutes at a time) and are replaced by other still pictures – in effect, a slow-motion slideshow. Is a combination of such long-duration stills and “scrolling” type to be permitted?
De facto video screens: RFP p. 20 tells us that “endors are encouraged to propose innovative lighting solutions which do not produce excessive glare, and innovative communications solutions (e.g., audio, video, scrolling text) to promote interactivity and enhance the user experience.”
- What evidence does the city have that citizens want their garbage cans to be interactive? What evidence is available demonstrating that street furniture provides a “user experience”?
- As with map stands, exactly what kind of “audio” does the city want?
- In Addendum 2, the city flatly rejects the use of video screens. Yet “video” is explicitly encouraged in the above section. Which of these are we to trust?
- Eye-tracking studies conducted for the outdoor advertising industry conclude that using light as beacon attracts people to advertising. Pattison Outdoor has recently rolled out new pedestal signs on downtown parking lots using a light beacon on the edges of the signs. Would such light beacons be prohibited on the street furniture?
Typography: The RFP and addenda do not address issues of city-wide functional typography. Minutes from the public information sessions on street furniture show a clear public demand for “oordinated typography... on all street furniture and streetsigns; develop custom font for Toronto with local expertise.” Addendum A, §A ¶9, calls for “unique designs reflect Toronto’s distinctiveness.... It is therefore essential that the Toronto designs used elsewhere.”
- Why has the city not required a fully scoped plan for typography, backed up by prototypes and test results? (Such tests might inclement weather, nighttime, with visually-impaired persons, and with combinations of those features.) How will the requirement for distinctiveness be achieved without such a plan?
- P. 16 of the RFP states that transit-stop names shall be affixed on two sides “in letters no less than 80 mm high.” Current transit-stop labelling wasn’t even in place until activists forced the city to require the current vendor to live up to the terms of its contract, and it is presently typeset in white Helvetica on a transparent ground. Why does the RFP not set out requirements for typefaces, contrast, and tested legibility under conditions such as those mentioned above?
- P. 19 states that “he City of Toronto will provide detailed labelling directions such as size, color , graphics, and content.” Why is there no mention of typeface, nor any mention of testing of typeface, size, colour, graphics, and content?
- P. 20 tells us that multi-publication structures A should “allow for the street or intersection name to be incorporated into the multi-publication boxes.” Does the city really mean “incorporated into” rather than “displayed on,” and what are the typographic standards for such usage? What if other street furniture with similar labels, like a transit shelter, is close by?
- The scoring sheet, under the heading “Building and Supporting Toronto’s Identity,” lists two criteria:
- The design represents a unique solution and approach specific to Toronto
- The design is “timeless” and will be appropriate in all areas of the City
What “identity” must the winning design “build and support”? What typographic standards and testing underlie that identity?
Streetsigns: The city is undertaking a separate process to develop new streetsigns, a project that has been reported in the press as part of the plans for coordinated street furniture. Addendum 1 denied that press report, but questions remain.
- Street signage appears not to be covered by the RFP. Why not?
- What evidence can the city propose to establish that the streetsign program is indeed coordinated with the current RFP?
- What typographic standards, including testing, will the city impose to ensure that RFP-covered street furniture and streetsigns match or are compatible?
Lack of coordination: Addendum 1, §A ¶2, exempts “the City’s existing banner program.” (At the vendor meeting, city staff were visibly surprised to hear about street-pole banners, even though they hang right outside city buildings.) Addendum 4, A32, states that 1,000 new glass transit shelters will be grandfathered.
- In the cases of banners, streetsigns, Info-to-Go pillars, new glass bus shelters, and city parking-lot signage (Addendum 2, Q81), why does the RFP pretend that all those features will fail to be just as visible and apparent as RFP-covered street furniture?
- If this process is one of street-furniture coordination, why are hundreds of banners, two dozen advertising posts with hidden factual information, 30,000 streetsigns, a thousand bus shelters, and dozens of parking-lot signs excluded?
- Why is the city unable to reconcile different departments and agencies into one coordinated street-furniture program?
Ashtrays: RFP P. 18 states that “he contents of the ashtray compartment must be stored separately.” Does the city intend to limit designs to one ashtray per unit (“the ashtray compartment”)?
Collection of organics: RFP P. 18 states that designs must be modular to accommodate “ashtray , battery compartment, or the option of organics.” Wet-waste collection is a different task from dry-waste and recyclable collection, particularly during a heat alert. Any requirement to handle green-bin-like waste collection will significantly change the model form. Is the city requiring any kind of up-front accommodation of wet waste, and, if such is not provided in submitted designs, will there be a penalty?
Drain holes for vermin: P. 19 of the RFP requires the container to have drain holes and “prevent vermin from entering.” Toronto has all the usual bugs, like roaches, plus a recurring problem of yellow-jacket wasps. Can the city point to an existing design anywhere in Canada that meets both of these requirements at once, keeping in mind that insects are vermin?
Advertising by another name: The RFP proposes a putatively strict limit on advertising on street furniture. However, a close reading, not apparently done by the city, reveals further examples of permitted advertising.
- P. 21 states that third-party advertising is not permitted on multi-publication structures B. Does that mean the successful vendor, which by definition is not a third party, may advertise itself?
- Also on those structures, publication names “may be shown on the outside.” What are the size, colour, and typographic restrictions? What is to stop a publisher from using half the available surface area, multiplied by 2,000 boxes city-wide, in which to “show” its name?
- Addendum 1 answered a question about branding showing the successful vendor’s name: Such badges are not considered advertising. However, the city is hereby requested to clarify that it really understands the implications of the topic, which caught city staff by evident surprise at the vendor’s meeting.
Is the city aware that, when all forms of covered street furniture are included, it is authorizing the display of up to 23,640 badges all carrying the name of the successful vendor? When visitors arrive here, what city would they think they were visiting – “Toronto” or the vendor’s name? (Which would be more widespread on street furniture?)
- For this question, two items of existing street furniture were surveyed – old-style steel and new glass transit shelters.
- Badges were modelled as rectangles, though they are actually lozenges with rounded ends.
- Old shelters bore badges showing the vendor’s name with dimensions of 0.180 × 0.023 m (0.00414 m2). Dimensions of badges on new shelters are 0.32 × 0.059 m (0.01888 m2).
- Assume that small street furniture will use the old-shelter badge size (smaller) and large street furniture the new-shelter badge size (larger).
- Small street furniture includes litter/recycling receptacles (12,500), postering kiosks (500 and 2,000), multi-publication structures (500 and 2,000), and bike-parking facilities (1,000). Total units: 18,500. Total space used by vendor badges: 18,500 × 0.00414 m2 = 76.49 m2.
- Large street furniture includes transit shelters (5,000), information/wayfinding structures (120), benches (2,000), and public washrooms (20). Total units: 7,140. Total space used by vendor badges: 7,140 × 0.01888 m2 = 134.8 m2.
- Does the city really intend to give the successful vendor, without fee or oversight, the quantity of 211.3 m2 of additional space to advertise its own name? The amount is equivalent to an additional 1.15% of ad space, or a 14 m × 14 m billboard distributed city-wide in 23,640 pieces, or 94 ad caissons at 24 sq.ft. (2.23 m2) each.
- Addendum 4, A48, states that permanent directional information or maps would not be included in calculation of advertising surface area. Does the city really mean that such faces might include advertising that could not be counted against the maximum, or does it mean that such faces could not contain advertising at all?
- Washrooms must “provide external indicators informing potential users of whether the unit is available or in use.” How does the city propose to make such indicators accessible to blind or low-vision persons?
- Why do the specifications for toilets not explicitly state the requirements for accessibility, including wheelchair access (up to and including large power wheelchairs); tactile and/or Braille labelling; adequate space for a wheelchair user and an attendant; and audible and visible instructions?
“Communication and/or panic alarms”: The scoring sheet, at p. 67 (pages numbers overwritten by shaded table cell), lists “There are provisions for communication and/or panic alarms, where appropriate” twice.
- What are the exact requirements for accessibility to blind/visually-impaired, deaf/hard-of-hearing, and mobility-impaired persons for such panic alarms? (This is not a request to refer vendors to the accessibility document. It is a request for the exact requirements for panic alarms that work for blind, deaf, and quadriplegic citizens and others.)
Accessibility of signage:
- Why does the RFP fail to include a requirement for talking signs (not necessarily Talking Signs™, a proprietary technology)?
- Where is the requirement for tactile signage and maps?
Accessibility of repair-notification systems: After misrepresenting a question posed at the vendor meeting, the city eventually decided to half-respond to the issue of accessibility of systems to notify the vendor of street furniture that needs repair or attention. Addendum 2, Q14, refers the reader to ¶6, which states that every piece or cluster of street furniture must include a notice of “a current and operative 24-hour telephone number that is TTY-capable” to report problems.
- Does the city really intend to authorize up to 25,640 such “notices”? May they contain branding or badges of the successful vendor, and if so, at what size?
- How are such notices to be made accessible to low-vision or blind citizens?
- Is the city aware that, with advances in wireless and Internet technologies, deaf and hard-of-hearing people use TTY less and E-mail and instant messaging more? Why does the requirement suit the late 1980s, when there was no practical alternative but to place a phone or TTY call, while ignoring the use of Web sites, E-mail, instant messaging, or other methods?
- Will the city require the use of such technologies, specifically a Web site, and if so, what will be the requirements for standards compliance; Web accessibility; and browser-compatibility and user testing?
Claimed coordination of street furniture and BIAs: Addendum 2, A6, informs us that BIAs may not opt out of the RFP.
- Are any BIAs bidding on this RFP? Are they even included in the process in the first place, or is it logically impossible for BIAs to opt out of something they were never included in?
- “BIAs would be allowed to maintain their own street furniture,” albeit without advertising. Is the city imagining a scenario in which the street-furniture program is greeted with such hostility by BIAs plural that they reject it altogether, choosing instead to maintain their own neighbourhood look and feel? Irrespective of reasons, wouldn’t a coordinated street-furniture program be vitiated if BIAs “maintain their own street furniture”?
Payment for, and acquisition of, street furniture: Addendum 1, §A ¶8, states that the successful vendor “will assume ownership of existing” street furniture.
- What evidence can staff provide that elected city councillors authorized the outright gift of all existing covered street furniture to an outside vendor?
- ¶11 states that the successful vendor must pay the city for any street furniture not actually rolled out. That gives the winning vendor 20 years less a day in which to decide exactly how many items of street furniture to roll out. What assurances does the city have that the successful vendor will not simply refuse to stock as many items of street furniture as are required? (The penalty doesn’t kick in for two decades.)
- The cash value of the existing street furniture may offset the vendor’s planned expenditures on new furniture. In effect, the vendor could use existing furniture as units of currency in calculating how much new furniture to roll out. Can city staff demonstrate that it has insulated the citizenry from the successful vendor’s leaving the existing street furniture in place and merely paying a fine 20 years later for an equivalent number of uninstalled new items?
3D and “enhanced” advertising: Addendum 4, A46 and A47, state that 3D transit-shelter wraps “are not contemplated” but planting a giant fibreglass moose on top of a bus shelter might be. The latter would be exempted from square-footage calculations, meaning that fibreglass moose could be installed on top of tens of thousands of street-furniture items if agreed by the city. Hence, A46 and A47 contradict each other and A47 undermines the stated advertising limits imposed by the present program. Which requirements shall prevail?
Taxes on advertising: Addendum 4, A4, states that taxes are not collected on various items of street furniture. The City of Toronto Act empowers the city to levy new taxes, including a tax on billboards. What mechanisms do city staff have in mind to insulate the successful vendor from paying taxes on billboards on its coordinated street furniture?
Reduction of advertising space: City Council appears to have approved a staff report that called for a 14% reduction in advertising square footage from 198,200 sq.ft. to about 170,400. This RFP, however, states “The total amount of current advertising is 18,395 square metres (198,200 square feet) and under this agreement the city will require the successful vendor to maintain total advertising levels as less than this amout,” which suggests that a square footage of 198,199 would be permitted. (See p. 30 of a staff report [PDF]: “Another measure is total cumulative area of ad space in the public streets. Today, the amount is about 198,200 square feet, compared to about 170,400 square feet projected with the controls. This is a net reduction of about 27,800 square feet or 14%.”)
- Has this RFP not substantially deviated from City Council’s direction?
- Didn’t City Council expect an RFP that mandated a 14% reduction in square footage? Will further City Council approval of the RFP be required to correct this?
- The vibrant-streets document suggests that the spacing between transit stops will generally regulate the proximity of two advertising faces. If an advertisement is placed on a streetcar shelter, which is located in the middle of the roadway, will another advertisement be allowed on the same block as that streetcar shelter, but on the sidewalk? In other words, will another advertisement be allowed in close proximity to a mid-street streetcar shelter advertisement?
- Will there be any restrictions on so-called metro-domination campaigns? For example, is it permitted for the successful vendor to sell every advertising face, or a huge proportion of them, in the entire downtown core to a single advertiser?
Web renderings: Addendum 1, §A ¶14(b), states that the vendor must provide one “set of letter-sized artistic drawings will be posted on the City’s Web site for public viewing.”
- Why did the city not specify a delivery format? What if the delivered resolution is not enough to adequately understand the rendering?
- Is the city aware that Web sites are not print and certainly are not “letter-sized”?
- If the city is contemplating posting these “artistic drawings” in PDF, what accessibility provisions will there be?
Public viewing of models: Addendum A, §A between ¶16 and ¶17, states that “models shall be fully enclosed to prevent viewing and/or protection against damage.”
- Does the city understand that the sentence actually requires enclosed models to prevent protection against damage (i.e., to permit damage) and/or to prevent viewing?
- The same section states that models may later be made available for viewing. Can the city reconcile these two requirements?
Multilingualism: In what languages other than English will the successful vendor be required to provide services of any and all kinds?
Vendor longevity: What requirements will the city impose, if any, if a successful vendor fails; goes bankrupt; cancels the contract; winds up business; or is sold, particularly to another of the vendors vying for this contract?
Losers’ lawsuits: Recent history in the City of Toronto shows that bidders never actually lose a contract; they merely sue the city if they don’t win it. What provisions has the city made to address lawsuits or claims made by losing vendors?
Zero-advertising budget: An article in the December 2006 Toronto Life (Ryan Bigge, “Space Man,” p. 48) states that “the city... recently presented a budget that... included the cost of street furniture with and without advertising sponsorship.” Where is that budget, why hasn’t it been provided to vendors, and will you provide it now?
Inclusion of community comments: What evidence can the city provide that the wishes expressed by average citizens in street-furniture consultations, specifically the oft-mentioned desire for street furniture with no advertising whatsoever, were actually heeded in this process?
“Necessity” of wrapping things up by September: Addendum 4, A1, mentions a “necessity to have a new contract in place by September 1, 2007.” What is the source of this “necessity”? Please answer in light of the fact that an election has been held and a new city council sworn in.
Stated disregard for public opinion: This entire exercise is ostensibly meant to improve the public realm, though that would be achieved through the mechanism of selling tens of thousands of items of street furniture to a single vendor, likely a foreign national. Yet, during the eventual design-review stage, Addendum 1, §A ¶14(b), baldly states:
Public feedback to renderings will not be used in the evaluation of proposals. The sole intent is to provide the public with the opportunity to view street-furniture elements that the city is considering so as to provide context for the eventual recommendations of the selection committee.
- Is the city really saying that it truly intends to disregard public opinion, and that such opinion will be canvassed only so that common citizens will understand the irreversible declarations of their superiors in the selection committee?
- In which document adopted by elected City Council was city staff empowered to embark upon this RFP yet also to explicitly disregard public opinion?
Insulation against criticism: Nearly all, if not actually all, the press and online coverage of the street-furniture program is critical, sometimes excoriating. Published results from a public-opinion survey show great ambivalence and hostility and little in the way of outright support. This is a program that people willing to venture an opinion do not want. As such, what exact plans does the city have to insulate itself, its staff, and the successful vendor from 20 years of activism, and possible vandalism, from citizens who never wanted “coordinated street furniture” in the first place?