The Regional Municipality of York is cracking down on federal election signs put up by candidates in eight local ridings that are in violation of its sign bylaw.
Complaints surfaced earlier this week about Conservative candidate Lois Brown’s election signs going up on regional roads as early as Sept. 12 in Newmarket and Aurora, well in advance of the date that they are allowed to do so — Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m.
In a letter emailed to all York Region federal candidates this afternoon, the Regional Municipality of York’s Regional Clerk, Christopher Raynor, stated that “election signs will be permitted only from 10 a.m. on the 28th day before election day and ending 72 hours following the close of polls; for this fall’s federal election, signs are permitted beginning 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019”.
Any signs installed contrary to the bylaw and that York Region staff remove for non-compliance will be held until after election day, and available for pickup at no cost, Raynor said.
Raynor also noted that the region’s Signs on Regional Roads Bylaw, enacted in 2015, is in accordance with the “current state of the law pertaining to the regulation of signs on public highways”.
The sign bylaw incorporates provisions for election signs for the purposes of increased public safety and to minimize the region’s costs associated with enforcement, Raynor said.
Non-compliance with York Region’s sign bylaw may negatively affect public safety, the regional clerk noted, and election signs installed contrary to the bylaw can impede sightlines at intersections and interfere with transit stops, sidewalks and utilities.
The region’s immediate concern is addressing signs that are affecting sightlines at intersections and possible safety concerns, said Patrick Casey, the region’s corporate communications director.
“The reminder notification to candidates is to help address the balance,” Casey said.
Candidates were also reminded that no more than two election signs will be permitted for each candidate per intersection, with a maximum of one sign per intersection corner, and that signs will be prohibited at certain intersections where there is limited space.
When reached for comment this afternoon, Brown’s campaign manager, Peter Seemann, said he could not comment as he had not received the regional clerk’s letter.
Seemann had told NewmarketToday on Monday that the local Conservative campaigns have put up their federal election signs the day after the writ was issued, and were not asked to take down any signs.
“We got a call from the Region of York and we shared a letter from our legal counsel and, under the Canada Elections Act, federal elections supercede municipal bylaws with respect to when signs can go up,” Seemann said earlier this week. “If York Region comes back and counters that, then we’ll deal with it accordingly.”
Newmarket-Aurora federal Liberal campaign spokesperson Cameron McNeill said he was thankful the region acted quickly on the issue.
“We look forward to the prompt removal of signs that have been knowingly placed in violation of local bylaws," McNeill said.