Bid to limit election sign numbers shot down

The next civic election will likely see a repeat of the proliferation of election signs that pockmarked the landscape of Langley

Unless there’s a change of heart and sympathy towards Councillor Charlie Fox, the next civic election will see a repeat of the proliferation of election signs that pockmarked the landscape of Langley for three weeks leading up to the Nov. 19 election.

Fox had proposed a review of the Election Bylaw as it relates to signage, specifically seeking a ban on 4 X 8 signs, limiting them to 16 square feet, and allowing each candidate only 50 signs larger than four square feet.

That limit of 50 would apply to a slate as well as individual candidates.

Fox’s motion, presented to council on Monday, proposed that no sign larger than four square feet could be placed within 15 metres of an intersection, and that no two signs from one candidate or slate could be within 30 metres of each other.

A majority of council rejected the changes which Fox had suggested would improve safety, especially at intersections where some signs impeded visibility.

“When you have a proliferation of signs at intersections, it’s a safety issue,” he said.

Susan Palmer, the Township’s chief election officer, told council that she received approximately 50 complaints about signs, an increase of 25 per cent.

There were 41 candidates in the race for mayor, council and school board, leading to an unprecedented number of signs. Many were vandalized.

“There were multitude areas where these situations (destruction of signs) repeated themselves time and time again,” Fox said.

“If we do nothing from this last experience we are doing the public a disservice,” he added.

Councillor Kim Richter strenuously opposed the motion, calling it undemocratic.

“This goes to the heart of democracy,” Richter said, adding that the signs are allowed for only three weeks. Limiting the size and location of signs would significantly handicap the efforts of newcomers to an election, and give an advantage to incumbents, she argued.

However, she added, she might have supported the motion had it included a ban on plastic-bag signs.

Councillor David Davis had the last word before a majority of council defeated the motion.

“I don’t like signs. I think they’re ugly, even with my face on them.”