Updated: Council voted final approval of the new regulations without discussion at their June 13 meeting.
Election campaigns signs will be smaller, and they won’t be allowed on public property, under an amended Langley City bylaw given preliminary approval by council.
It will end the practice of permitting campaign signs under the power lines on 200th Street, and on the Langley Bypass in the area of the Salvation Army Gateway of Hope.
As well, the maximum allowed sign size will be halved, from four feet by eight feet, to four feet by four feet.
Signs on private property, with consent of the property owner, will continue to be permitted.
A report by City Corporate Officer Kelly Kenney proposed the changes in response to council concerns about the “tendency for political signs to be defaced and/or damaged in the two permitted public property locations, [and the] negative environmental impact of plastic political signs.”
Council gave first three readings to the revised bylaw at their Monday, May 30 meeting, with final approval expected at the Monday, June 13 session.
Mayor Val van den Broek and Councillor Gayle Martin opposed the changes, with the mayor warning it could discourage newcomer candidates from being able to showcase themselves.
“I think we’re impeding new candidates from coming forward,” van den Broek remarked.
Instead of reducing the size of plastic signs, van den Broek suggested the City could require the use of “biodegradable” materials.
Martin doubted the changes will reduce the amount of plastic waste created by campaign signs.
“Personally, if we had a sign bylaw that said no signs at all, I’d be happy,” Martin remarked.
“That would certainly solve the problem of the environment, it would solve the problem of any vandalism,” Martin added.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace said she would favour even smaller sign size limits.
Coun. Nathan Pachal said putting up election signs in the two public spaces only generates newspaper stories about vandalism.
“I actually didn’t put signs near the Gateway of Hope [in the last election] because they just get vandalized the moment they are up, and they end up in the creek, there,” Pachal observed, adding the same applied to the 200th Street location.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom said destruction of election signs “happens every time” there is an election, calling it “against democracy.”
At the same meeting, council gave final approval to other election-related rule changes, including an increase in the minimum number of required nominators for candidates and allowing voters to register and cast ballots by mail.
As revised, the City’s “Election and Assent Voting Procedure” bylaw increases the number of nominators a candidate must have to run for either councillor or mayor from two to 10, “to ensure there is meaningful support from qualified electors [and] provide greater assurance that a candidate is committed to holding office.
The number of nominators required to run for school trustee will remain at two.
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