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Richmond looks to make changes to city election sign bylaw

Several speakers attending the committee meeting were against the proposed changes.
richmond-city-council-2023
Richmond city council discussed election sign bylaw changes.

The majority on Richmond city council voted to ask its staff to look at changing the city’s election sign bylaw.

A motion from Mayor Malcolm Brodie asks city staff to examine how signs can still be visible on boulevards but not cause unsightliness.

At Monday’s general purposes committee meeting, Brodie brought forward the motion with several recommendations as to the placement of signs around the city.

The recommendations, he said, are a way to “promote and educate the public on who is running” during an election, while addressing concerns of too many signs in certain areas of the city.

“We want to express viewpoints, we want to educate and motivate people to vote… but we need some reasonable limitations to have a situation that is not so unsightly,” said Brodie.

Seven people spoke at the committee meeting on the election sign issue, mostly against the proposed changes.

Most speakers agreed signage is one of “the best ways” for candidates to make themselves known during elections, especially independent candidates, who often don’t have the same finances as candidates running as a group or slate.

One speaker said disallowing signs in certain areas would “go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Recommended changes include not allowing signs on any city property, while private property owners would need to fill out and hand in a written consent form for signs to be placed on their property.

Also, no signs would be allowed on trees, planters or shrubs of private properties and there would be a limit to one sign per candidate or group on a single parcel of property. Also, no vehicles displaying election signs would be allowed on public property.

“We’re not trying to stop the freedom of expression of people, we just want a clean city and we want to showcase it in a sustainable way,” Brodie added.

Coun. Carol Day described the recommendations as “not workable” and “too restrictive.”

She suggested council have a “wholesome conversation” and have more “strategic planning” for the next four years on the topic.

Coun. Laura Gillanders agreed with Day and said the motion is “not a consensus and it’s not going to work for everyone.”

Gillanders added there were more important issues to address at council at the moment and they have three more years to “come up with a new sign bylaw.”

The referral, however, was passed with Brodie and Couns. Andy Hobbs, Bill McNulty, Alexa Loo and Chak Au in favour.

Couns. Kash Heed, Michael Wolfe, Day and Gillanders were opposed to the motion.

The turnout in October’s municipal election was about 25 per cent in Richmond. This was down from about 36.5 per cent in 2018.

 

 

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