There will be far fewer election signs in Langley Township during the next election, after the council passed a new bylaw restricting them to only those placed in front of private homes.
The new election sign bylaw was passed by a six-to-two vote with Councillors Michael Pratt and Margaret Kunst opposed, and the members of the majority Contract with Langley slate voting in favour. Coun. Kim Richter was absent from the meeting.
The bylaw will eliminate election signs on the sides of roads or other public property. It restricts signs to a single sign per candidate or party in front of the home, or on the right of way directly in front of that home.
The bylaw is similar to rules in Langley City, Surrey, and Abbotsford.
Pratt said the bylaw went too far and would damage the ability of new candidates to get their names out there during elections. He said that he won in the 2022 civic vote partly because of his ability to use signs on his two runs for office, last year and in 2018.
“There’s a reason why it’s struck such a chord with me, and the residents I’ve discussed it with,” Pratt said.
He acknowledged the issues with widespread election signs – signs that become trash, or that are hazards to drivers because they’re too close to intersections or block views.
But he argued that allowing only private homeowners the right to put up sign disadvantages poorer residents as well.
He suggested a fairer bylaw would be to ban signs outright, including from in front of private homes.
Coun. Tim Baillie said it was a compromise, not a half measure.
“I can’t buy into this discussion of no signs at all,” he said, arguing that would give ultimate advantage to incumbents councillors.
“They do serve a purpose,” he said of the signs.
Coun. Steve Ferguson noted that candidates can still place their signs in some spots, even with the restrictions.
“What we did is we went door to door and asked people please, can I put a sign on your property, and some people said yes.”
The debate was largely divided between the independent councillors, Pratt and Coun. Margaret Kunst, and those elected with Mayor Eric Woodward and the Contract with Langley slate.
Kunst pointed out that Contract with Langley wasn’t different from their opponents in the last election.
“For all this talk about signs, you guys did have a lot of signs,” she said.
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