Gary Hee with some of the election signs from the Oct. 24 B.C. election and some of the planter boxes they became (Courtesy Gary Hee)

Gary Hee with some of the election signs from the Oct. 24 B.C. election and some of the planter boxes they became (Courtesy Gary Hee)

Langley election signs transformed into planters by recycling advocate

Gary Hee thinks signs shouldn’t be dumped in landfills

Some of the signs that went up during the Oct. 24 provincial election in Langley have found a new life as planter boxes, thanks to a former Langley council candidate who can’t stand waste.

Gary Hee has recycled 4,500 square feet of election signs donated by MLA Mary Polak, transforming them into sturdy planter boxes with one-inch thick walls, to be given away free to anyone who can use them.

He has enough material to make 24.

As of Sunday, Nov. 15, all but “five or six” had been spoken for, Hee told the Langley Advance Times.

One recipient was a Langley daycare, which already has a set of Hee-built planters from a previous election, that are used to help educate children about planting.

“It’s educational,” Hee enthused.

“They can see how vegetables grow.”

The daycare took five this time.

Hee said production is easier this year because Polak had the signs cut up into two-foot squares before he picked them up..

He builds the sturdy two-foot-square boxes by layering several signs together with screws and duct tape, keeping them blank side out.

Hee, 76, started looking for ways to re-use campaign signs to keep them from ending in landfills after an unsuccessful run for Langley Township council.

READ MORE: Proposal to use recycled campaign signs for homeless shelters attracts interest

He’s also experimented with building a variety of “prototypes” including sleeping mats and emergency shelters for homeless people, dividers for students and a six-foot tall tool shed.

He’s hoping he can convince candidates in the next municipal election in Langley to donate their signs, but he hasn’t had a lot of luck getting commitments this early on.

“I think they’re pretty busy,” Hee commented.

Hee’s idea came to the attention of National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States in 2018, when he was contacted by a producer for NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” a show devoted to off-beat news stories.

A business owner who lives near the Surrey-Langley border on the Cloverdale side, Hee got involved in Langley politics when he began campaigning for improvements to the stretch of road that crosses the Langley-Surrey border following a number of serious accidents in the area of 72 Avenue and 198B Street.

He’s also campaigned for free parking at Langley Memorial Hospital, a petition drive that succeeded, in manner of speaking, when the province announced fees would be suspended during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Free hospital parking announcement didn’t go far enough, critic says

Anyone interested in the remaining planters, especially those interested in helping put them together, can contact Hee by email at gary.hee@gmail.com.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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