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Newspapers targetted by Olympic bylaw

VANCOUVER - From New Year's Day until the day before April Fool's Day, it could be harder to find a copy of 24 hours in Vancouver.

That's because a proposed bylaw going to city council today would ban advertising matter - including newspapers distributed by hand - "on, in, or above any zone street, venue corridor, pedestrian corridor or Olympic lane" from Jan. 1 to March 31.

"Our mandate is to deliver the news to the community and advertising is only one component of it," said 24 hours general manager Philip Tan. "Any bylaw which infringes on our ability to deliver that information goes against the public interest."

Olympic operations director Paul Henderson claimed staff who wrote the bylaw could not differentiate between newspapers and other commercial literature. He said the city must uphold anti-ambush marketing pledges to the International Olympic Committee.

24 hours is not a Games sponsor.

"The goal is to reduce litter, reduce congestion, reduce commercialization of the streets," Henderson said.

"The idea of bringing the Olympics into town was so the world can discover Vancouver and all that it has to offer," Tan said. "Restricting legit business and goods - whether in designated zones or in other capacities - is also contrary to the promise of economic benefits Vancouver hopes to reap in these recessionary times."

The bylaw does not affect newspaper boxes, but Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit is ordering removal of newspaper and mail boxes and garbage cans near venues.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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