A proposal to recycle election yard signs into emergency shelters for the homeless appeared to gain some traction this week, with word the Township of Langley has agreed to give the discarded signs from the municipal elections to Gary Hee, the Township council hopeful who came up with the idea.
Hee said the Township election officer has given him the go-ahead “to get them on Tuesday at the works yard” where the discarded signs are kept.
Hee’s idea also came to the attention of National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States, when he was contacted by a producer for NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” a show devoted to off-beat news stories.
When contacted by Black Press, the producer confirmed the idea was mentioned on the show, but declined to be interviewed.
Hee said he came up with the idea when he saw the “massive amount of signage” lining the roads during the run-up to the vote.
“A lot of them will probably end up in the landfill as garbage,” said Hee, who did not win a seat on council.
“I thought, why waste them?”
The 74-year-old Hee said he only put out four regular campaign signs to be “green” during the election, so he only had enough to make a scaled-down model of an emergency foul-weather shelter that could accommodate one person.
The plastic signs are waterproof, lightweight and easy to store, and church groups and other agencies that assist the homeless would store the shelters for use when temperatures drop, Hee said.
He’s hoping to collect enough signs to make a full-size prototype for testing, and has already spoken to some homeless people who expressed interest.
He has also emailed the other Langley candidates to ask for donations.
Most, he said, told him “they have no signs to provide due to saving (for reuse in future campaigns) or discarded to waste depots.”
During his unsuccessful campaign for a Township council seat (he finished 22nd of 23 candidates), Hee listed homelessness as one of his top concerns, saying if elected he would lobby to reduce homelessness “by advocating co-operative mobile homes on government residential endowment land and leased lots.”
Hee, a Surrey resident, got involved in Langley politics when he began campaigning for improvements to the stretch of road that crosses the Langley-Surrey border after a number of serious accidents in the area of 72 Avenue and 198B Street.
Any sign donors can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.