Just days before the provincial election gets underway, city officials have clarified wording in its sign bylaw which, at first glance, seems to restrict the number of election campaign signs that can be placed on private property.
But it affirmed that the 30-sign limit referred to in the bylaw is only for city-owned property, not private, a note that wasn’t clear previously.
Speaking yesterday, city official Terri Williamson, said a sentence in an overall sign bylaw passed in early 2016 could be taken as to restrict the total number of election signs to 30 from any one party within the city’s boundaries.
That sentence reads, “no more than 30 signs may be erected under one sign permit for election signs placed on either private property or in the public right-of-way.”
“The wording is not quite correct,” said Williamson. “The intent is to really limit the number [of signs] on public right-of-way. It does not affect private property.”
The city’s sign bylaw does restrict the number of signs that can be placed alongside the Grand Trunk Pathway, a popular location for sign-placers because of its high visibility.
There the limit is 10 election signs total, leaving election campaign organizers to divide the rest between popular locations such as Kalum and Lanfear hills and the south end of the Sande Overpass.
Williamson did note that election signs are not permitted in public spaces such as parks.
The sign bylaw also places limits on the sizes of election signs.
Skeena NDP candidate Bruce Bidgood welcomed the clarification, saying the sentence in the bylaw had been a worry.
The wording about limiting the number of signs overall could be interpreted as the city seeking to limit free expression on private property, he said.
And the limit would also prevent voters from determining the strength of each candidate’s campaign, he added.
“If each was allowed just 30 signs how would you know,” said Bidgood. “It would really confine each campaign.”
“We were just out canvassing and in a short period, we had 10 people asking for lawn signs. In no time then we would have been at our limit. I guess you could say then we’d have been very efficient.”
Bidgood estimates his campaign will order approximately 1,000 lawn signs of the plastic-bag style which are stretched over a frame.
“This is a fairly big riding and I’d say 40 per cent of those will be for Terrace,” he said.
A brief statement from the Ellis Ross BC Liberal campaign indicated it “will abide by the bylaws outlined by the city.”
The Cariboo city of Quesnel is more restrictive, allowing just six double-sided signs on public property.