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Another COVID casualty: Bus shelter advertising

City staff are urging City Council to nail down a two-year extension of its bus shelter advertising contract with its current supplier, Outfront Media. The company has been the city bus shelter advertising supplier since 2002 and the staff recommendation is to sole-source the extension because of poor market conditions. The staff report says they were all set to issue a competitive Request for Proposals in January, and had the bid documents completed in June. But by then the COVID pandemic was underway and as the report reads, “an industry scan has indicated that due to the impacts of COVID-19, releasing the RFP at this time may result in the City receiving no bids or bids that are very conservative given the unknown economic recovery.”

The 2010 Transit Shelter Amending Agreement provides the city 25% of net revenue. Since 2011 the deal has netter the city between $171,000 and $218,000 per year. The company also cleans and maintains the bus shelters. The staff recommendation says: “a two-year extension will ensure the shelter inventory remains in a state of good repair as well as maintain some degree of revenue generation while providing extended time for economic recovery. Given the impact COVID-19 has had on local and global economies, it is anticipated a longer recovery period may be needed to stabilize markets for certain goods and services.”

“Outfront Media has conducted business with the City in a mutually co-operative and professional manner since 2002. They have honoured their contractual obligations in terms of providing the City with annual revenue and maintenance and cleaning of transit shelters.” Because the COVID pandemic resulted in a major drop in passenger traffic, many of the city bus shelters are currently not carrying any advertising.

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