One Lower Mainland city is putting a stop to election signs on public land, citing hefty cleanup fees from previous elections.
Surrey council voted unanimously Monday night to ban election signs on public property and highways throughout the city.
According to a staff report to council, 1,831 candidate signs were removed during the 2018 civic election campaign that did not conform to city requirements, which prohibited signs being erected within 25 metres of intersections.
Removing the illegally placed signs cost the city a pretty penny last fall.
“The total fees collected in 2018 for removed election signs was $8,600 which very nominally offsets the City’s cost that amounted to approximately $160,000, $42,300 for Engineering staff and $117,700 for Bylaw Enforcement staff). This amount included labour, equipment, disposal and administration,” the report states.
Surrey isn’t the only community cracking down on election signs.
Quesnel, with a population of 12,000, allows just six double-sided election signs per candidate on public property.
“I think this allows campaigns to concentrate on the things that matter: door-knocking and policy instead of having sign wars with each other and complaining that so-and-so is vandalizing so-and-so’s sign,” Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson told Black Press Media.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said he was happy to support the election sign bylaw changes.
“I think during the campaign we indicated that if we did get elected we would bring this sign bylaw into force in Surrey. The criticism that we received during the campaign, or I can say myself anyways, on signs, was horrific. There was many, many complaints,” McCallum said.
“But I think the most important thing we felt very strongly is so many of the signs were a safety concern at our intersections. Certainly as I drove around the community and seeing all the signs at major intersections, a lot of them blocking the view of the cross streets and so forth, it was a real danger,” he added.
Managing election signage in 2018 was a “challenging endeavour” for the city, staff noted in a corporate report to council that outlined the proposed changes.
Staff noted the proliferation of election signage during campaigns is “both distracting to motorists and places a significant burden on City resources, at the expense of the taxpayers, to ensure compliance.”