Campaign signs started appearing in the Township of Langley right after nominations for the Oct. 20 municipal elections opened on Sept. 4.
But they have yet to show up on Langley City streets, the result of regulations that forbid candidates from posting signs until after those same nominations close.
The result is Township candidates get an extra 10 days of roadside promotion, starting from the day nominations opened, while their City counterparts will have to wait until 4 p.m. on Sept. 14, when the nominations close.
It wasn’t supposed to be like that.
Township council actually approved a bylaw change that would have limited the time allowed for campaign signs to 20 days before the election.
But they did it during the July 9 evening meeting of council, after normal business hours, just missing a provincial deadline for passing election bylaws before the Oct. 20 municipal vote.
The minutes and video of the meeting show that Coun. Kim Richter, with the backing of Coun. Bob Long, wanted outdoor campaign signs banned until nominations closed, similar to Langley City.
The proposed motion noted that allowing placement to begin Sept. 4 would mean seven weeks of campaign signs — longer than usual for Langley Township.
“I think people are going to get fed up with signs,” Richter said.
Instead, council decided to restore a previous bylaw time limit for campaign signs that kept them from going up until 20 days before the election day, a period of just under three weeks.
But because council missed the deadline, the new restrictions won’t apply.
As it stands, the Township of Langley election signs bylaw sets out several restrictions on sign placement during an election, such as forbidding their placement “in such a way as to create a potential hazard to vehicular, pedestrian or cyclist traffic, and must not obstruct the view of any portion of a traffic control device, signal or intersection.”
Signs must be kept a minimum of 20 metres from any intersection.
Bylaw No. 5304 allows the Township of Langley to immediately remove signs that violate the bylaw.
For election or political signs on private property, residents are asked to contact legislative services at 604-533-6100 or email email@example.com.
For signs on streets or public property, contact bylaw enforcement at 604-532-7551 or engineering at 604-533-6006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Langley City restrictions include a requirement that signs “do not obstruct or otherwise interfere with sight lines or movement of motor vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or any other, or obstruct the visibility of regulatory sign or other traffic control devices.”
More information about election rules in Langley City are available online at city.langley.bc.ca under “2018-local-government-election.”
Defacing, damaging or pulling down election or political signs anywhere is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Other communities near the Langleys have different start dates for campaign signage.
Abbotsford allows campaign signs as soon as nominations open, while White Rock and Surrey forbid the posting of signs until nominations have closed.