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Council tackles election ‘sign pollution’

UPDATE: The County’s new election bylaw will be kept simple as councillors expressed interest in keeping restrictions to a minimum.

Option ‘C’ will move forward to the March 1 council meeting. It restricts the number of election signs per candidate on private property to no more than two per candidate on any one piece of land zoned residential and no more than three per candidate on any one piece of land zoned other than residential.

Placement and distance restriction options were discarded.

Councillor Treat Hull said costs alone limit abuse of campaign signs. He noted he ran a well-funded provincial campaign covering the area from the County to Bancroft and could barely afford enough signs for Prince Edward County. Noting he was one of the top three or four spenders in the last election, “I didn’t have enough signs to go around. They’re expensive – probably the biggest single line item in a candidate’s budget, or one of the big ones.”

He encouraged council to focus on abuse of placing signs around polling stations.

Councillor Kevin Gale stated he won’t support the bylaw seeing no need to muddy the election waters.

Clerk Kim White noted the first question of almost every candidate during the nomination period is about rules for signs.

“We do not have a sign bylaw regarding election signs at all,” she said. “There have been some problems in the past regarding congestion, the placement of signs on highways, the size and removal of signs.” She noted that if the municipality does not have general provisions in place for election signs there is no avenue, for example, to take down or remove signs that are just left behind.

 

FEB 15 – County councillors will tackle election “sign pollution” discussing a draft Election Sign bylaw at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

With recent changes to the Municipal Elections Act and legislation, a separate bylaw for election signs has been drafted for the ease of candidates, staff and the public.

It includes options related to placement, erection and removal dates, as well as a proposal on the number of signs a candidate is permitted on residential and non-residential property – helping, the report notes, to reduce “sign pollution” that occurs from May to November of an election year.

Option A includes the provision that a candidate is only permitted to place signs within the ward in which they are running for office. The option further provides continuity for all candidates in purchasing and displaying signs as currently the maximum campaign expense is calculated by the number of eligible voters in each ward.

Option B restricts the distance that signs can be erected on the municipal road allowance noting candidates shall not place, or permit the placement of election signs closer than 500 feet of each other on the road allowance. Currently election signs are not permitted on road allowances without a specific permit.

The report notes abuse of these aspects has been minimal in the past, however, there have been occasions where candidates have moved their election signs just prior to voting day, then reinstalled them along the road allowance just prior to the entrance to the voting place. This resulted in resident complaints of trying to exit their driveways.

Option C restricts the number of election signs per candidate on private property to no more than two per candidate on any one piece of land zoned residential and no more than three per candidate on any one piece of land zoned other than residential.

The draft election sign bylaw is to be brought forward to the March 1 council meeting for enactment.

Filed Under: Local News

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