The City of Surrey’s public safety operations manager says the city removed more than 1,000 campaign signs in violation of the city’s election sign rules so far, and more will be taken down.
On Monday, Jas Rehal, Surrey’s Public Safety Operations Manager told the Now-Leader that “pretty much all parties” are in violation of the city’s rules for election signs that ban them from being erected within 25 metres of intersection. At the time, Rehal estimated about 200 signs would be coming down.
By Wednesday afternoon, Rehal said city staff had removed 1,060 signs.
“We still have trucks that will be coming back in later today,” he said.
The Now-Leader has requested a list of the offending parties.
“Late last week we sent notification out to all candidates of the election sign requirements,” Rehal said Monday afternoon. “We’d received some complaints, in particular, for the 25-metre rule. We gave them until the weekend to get their signs into compliance and what we’ve done today is start dealing with signs that are still left in non-compliance.”
It’s a “very big job,” Rehal acknowledged, adding that as of Monday it’s estimated there are 200 signs the city plans to remove.
“We’re trying to deal with it. If there’s anything causing a hazard, or intersections that have a lot, we’re prioritizing,” he said.
Once the signs are yanked down, Rehal said candidates have three days to pick up their signs at $25 a pop.
If they’re not picked up after 72 hours, they’re trashed.
The rule isn’t new, Rehal explained.
“The 25-metre requirement was there in previous elections also,” he noted.
Asked Monday about the removal of election campaign signs, Surrey’s Chief Election Officer Anthony Capuccinello told reporters that his role is limited “in the sense I’m responsible for the conduct and administration of the election. I’m not responsible for how the city chooses to issue temporary authorizations to use city property for signage.”
Capuccinello did say that all candidates received a copy of the City of Surrey’s temporary letter of authorization related to election signs when they submitted their nomination papers.
“That provided certain conditions under which signs could be placed on city property, including boulevards, highways and parks,” he added. “That is the administration of property of the city. Now as elections officer, there are limitations on where signs can be placed in proximity to voting locations and that does involve the election officials and myself. We enforce that. That’s the 100-metre radius that I’m sure you’re all aware of but beyond that, placement of signs on city property, that is a matter of the city’s, not of the chief election officer.”
This comes just days after the City of Surrey removed signs that promote light rail transit, at the “direction” of Elections BC.
The city has “removed all the signs for the duration of the election period,” said Deputy City Solicitor Philip Huynh.
Andrew Watson, Elections BC communications manager, said Elections BC requested late Thursday (Sept. 27) that the LRT signs be removed following a complaint regarding election advertising. Watson said under the local elections campaign financing act, election advertising is regulated during the campaign period.
“That legislation defines election advertising broadly. It defines it as the transmission to the public by any means during a campaign period,” Watson said.
“So (if) it promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, the election of a candidate, including the communications that take positions on issues with which a candidate or party is associated.”
In this case, Watson said, the signs didn’t directly support or oppose a candidate, “but they did directly support LRT in Surrey… which is a campaign issue in that election.”