Media Spending: Taxpayer dollars buy advertising in Calgary

A City of Sault Ste. Marie ad is seen on the Calgary Sun's website October 24, 2020.

The Freedom of Information on how our city spends money on media has come back and there are some remarkably interesting numbers inside.

Mayor Christian Provenzano during a council meeting in September mentioned one of our competitors numerous times.

During the same meeting it was suggested the city may want to look at ways the public is notified about city issues.

We filed an FOI with the city to determine how much money is spent with who, after being told we couldn’t just access that type of public information. We wanted to know where the taxpayer money was going and at what percentage.

$20.20 and a few weeks later I had my answers.

The city of Sault Ste Marie, since 2015 when Provenzano took over as mayor, splits their media spending up as follows.

Postmedia / Sault Star – $208,908.23

Village Media / SooToday – $92,911.15

Superior Media / Sault Online – $3,603

When pressed for an explanation, the city hides behind the Ontario Planning Act for reason of giving Postmedia so much taxpayer money. What they didn’t explain was why Postmedia was putting ads in the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald linking to our city’s notices.

Here is the section of the act they are referring too.

(20) For the purposes of subsection (19), the giving of written notice shall be deemed to be completed,

(a) where notice is given by publication in a newspaper, on the day that such publication occurs;

So an employer who’s home base is Toronto gets over $208,000 grand because they are the only daily newspaper in the city. With some of that money they put advertising for our city thousands of kilometers away.

The weekday circulation for the Star is around 7500 subscriptions. They employ less than five individuals.

In comparison, Village Media and ourselves employ over 30 people and are headquartered here in the Sault.

That is money which stays locally, in our own economy fostering growth right here in Sault Ste. Marie.

I can’t speak for our competitors, but I can assure you we get individual IP address hits on our site that far outweigh the 7500 circulation.

In a recent council meeting the way notification of public about serious issues was brought up. It’s going to be coming back to council how they can do it better.

A couple of suggestions:

1) Petition the province to change the notification requirements to include legitimate online news corporations.

2) Spend more money on companies who are looking at the new generation of readers.

Spending in this city whether it be properties, plaza’s or services requires serious attention and accountability to the taxpayer. If you have any issues, reach out to us, we will be that voice.


  1. Time to change the newspaper notice ‘rule’ considering how few people actually see the physical paper.
    Notice on the city website should suffice and they can promote via social media. If someone says well not everyone has the internet I would say far fewer buy the paper so they wont see the notice anyway.

  2. Good work Dan keep it up. It is nice to see we have at least one reporter willing to get into the closets of this city council and keep us the taxpayer informed of the skeletons hiding in there

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