The first campaign sign for a candidate running in City of Powell River’s upcoming general election went up recently.
“There's going to be a lot more coming,” said city clerk and chief election officer Chris Jackson.
But the 2018 election might see less advertising because of limitations on campaign contributions, and signs are expensive, according to Elections BC communications manager Andrew Watson.
Provincial and city powers do not regulate how early a campaign can roll out its advertising, but third-party sponsors must be identified.
“The candidate does have to include an authorization statement on their advertising and that includes election signs,” said Watson. “For example, authorized by John Doe, financial agent and phone number.”
While new rules on campaign financing and what a candidate spends on advertising from third party contributions will be tracked by Elections BC, where and when the signs go up are not.
“We don't regulate where and when signs may be placed,” said Watson. “It doesn't fall under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.”
Size, placement, maintenance and removal of signs is under local government authority, according to Watson.
Jackson said campaign advertising is a fundamental right and the city will not stand in the way with a lot of rules.
“We are very cognizant of the fundamental rights as contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms about the ability to express yourself politically,” said Jackson. “We have very few tools to prevent the signs from going up.”
Campaigns do not require pre-approval to place signs on city-owned property, nor is it needed on BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right of ways. The exceptions are the two banner locations near Willingdon Beach and on Joyce Avenue near Complex Way.
Other city regulations include:
Election-related freestanding signs (anchored into the ground) and portable signs (resting on the ground, such as a sandwich board) are permitted under the act.
Signs must not interfere with vehicular, pedestrian or other traffic; be attached to, obstruct or simulate any traffic control device; obstruct visibility or block site lines at intersections and along roads; create a safety hazard; inhibit city maintenance and operations staff from completing tasks; damage the land or subsurface infrastructure on which it is placed; or restrict the use and availability of playground, fields and trails.
The general election takes place on Saturday, October 20.