Photo: Lauren Collins The City of Surrey says it has removed hundreds of signs that violate election sign rules.

SURREY ELECTION

Surrey candidates, slates say campaign signs should be banned on public property

City says it began taking down 1,060 signs in violation of election sign rules on Oct. 1

Safe Surrey Coalition says campaign signs should be eliminated from all public property in the next election, despite the City of Surrey saying the slate was among several parties in violation of the city’s election sign rules.

On Oct. 3, public safety operations manager Jas Rehal said the city removed more than 1,000 signs that were in violation of rules that ban the signs from being erected within 25 metres of intersections. On Oct. 1, Rehal told the Now-Leader an estimated 200 signs would be removed.

Rehal said the city notified all candidates late last week about the election sign requirements, and gave the candidates the weekend “to get their signs in compliance.” He said the city had received some complaints, particularly about the 25-metre rule.

Rehal said the city notified all candidates about the election sign requirements, and gave the candidates the weekend of Sept. 29-30 “to get their signs in compliance.”

He said the city had received some complaints, particularly about the 25-metre rule.

Asked if Safe Surrey Coalition was in violation of the campaign sign rules, Rehal said, “Definitely.”

RELATED: Surrey removing 200 elections signs near intersections that violate city rules

Rehal said that once all the signs are taken down, candidates have three days to pick up their signs at $25 each. He added if the signs were not picked up within 72 hours, they would be thrown out.

A press release from Safe Surrey dated Oct. 3 states that, if elected, the slate would ban campaign signs from all public property for the next election.

“This game of cheating and ‘catch me if you can’ is setting a very poor example,” according to the Safe Surrey Coalition release that names several candidates. It added that the candidates “should be embarrassed enough that they themselves go out and help their campaign crews remove their remaining illegal signs. They do have their picture on them after all.”

Stuart Parker, a council candidate for Proudly Surrey, said he proposed banning election signs on public property on behalf of Proudly Surrey on Sept. 30.

“Signs should represent a party’s level of support, not how much money it can spend on oversized signs and the professional crews needed to erect them,” Parker said.

Surrey First mayoral candidate and incumbent councillor Tom Gill said that following the removal of election campaign signs by the City of Surrey this week, he is “calling for a change in regulations before the next Surrey civic election.”

“The time has come to limit signs to private property,” said Gill. “Monitoring the placement of these signs put a tremendous stress on our bylaw officers and sometimes act as hazards for drivers. Political campaigns, by their nature are driven by volunteers and that can often lead to compliance issues. I would strongly support banning election signs on public property in the next election.”

Imtiaz Popat, the mayoral candidate for Progressive Sustainable Surrey, said it “sounds like a good idea” to ban election campaign signs on public property for the election.

François Nantel, an independent candidate, said he would be in favour of banning the signs, adding that he doesn’t have any election campaign signs out in the public.

“It litters the roads, and after the election there are some not taken down by their owners,” Nantel said.

People First Surrey mayoral candidate Rajesh Jayaprakrash said politicians have the responsibility to “rationally analyze both sides of any issue and consult people before they make decisions.” He also said he wondered how parties and candidates would get the message out if campaign election signs were banned on public property.

Integrity Now mayoral candidate and incumbent councillor Bruce Hayne said banning election campaign signs on public property would be “wonderful for a bunch of reasons.”

“It really easy pretty easy and cost effective to reach your audience through social channels and online and couple that with the environmental implications of so much temporary signage, which for the most part is going to come down and be thrown out,” Hayne said.

He added that going through this election with the changing of the sign regulations, “it’s just been an unfortunate series of events that has tied up staff time, has cost campaigns a lot of money and quite frankly, for the most part, is a big burden on campaigns and on volunteers to go around and make the signs, erect the signs, make sure they’re in the right places, track where they’re going so that you can take the signs back down again when you’re done the campaign.”

The Now-Leader also reached out to mayoral candidate John Wolanksi for comment, but did not hear back by press deadline.

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