A former Langley council candidate has come up with a way to recycle election campaign signs into lightweight, dry sleeping mats for homeless people.
Gary Hee said he has been thinking about ways to repurpose election signs ever since he ran for Langley Township council in 2018.
“I was driving down 200th street and I saw a whole mess of campaign signs,” Hee recalled.
There had to be a better way to dispose of the plastic notices than sending them to the dump, he said.
“I asked the [other] candidates what are you going to do with them,” he related.
“[I said] if you don’t want them, give them to me.”
He ended up with about 800.
Hee demonstrated how sleeping mats can be made from campaign signs for the Langley Advance Times, using a cordless drill to sandwich several of them together into lightweight rectangles that can be combined to provide a full-length sleeping mat.
“They’re dry and warm,” Hee said, a better alternative to sleeping on the ground that doesn’t take up space and can be easily packed up.
Hee said signs from the current federal election campaign could also be repurposed for sleeping mats, but he wants to see if the idea gets some traction, before he makes another appeal for federal placards.
One church in Langley has expressed interest, Hee said, and he is hoping other agencies that assist the homeless will find the mats useful.
This is Hee’s second bid to recycle the campaign signs.
Earlier on, he designed a small portable shelter for homeless people built with campaign signs, but the idea didn’t catch on.
“I ended using them for garden boxes,” he said.
Hee said a local Langley church recently accepted a donation about 20 sleeping mats, and told him they intend to consult with community groups about the idea.
Hee, a Surrey resident, got involved in Langley issues in 2014 when he organized a petition for local residents to call for traffic calming measures along 72nd Avenue where it crosses the Surrey-Langley border.
Hee launched the campaign after there were a number of serious accidents where pedestrians were hit in the area of 72nd Avenue and 198B Street.
In 2016, the Township council voted to spend $1.6 million on safety improvements.
More recently, Hee circulated a petition among Langley residents that called on the provincial government, Langley Memorial Hospital Board and the mayors and councils of the City and Township of Langley “to implement ways and means to collaborate to remove parking fees placed upon us or our vehicles while attending the hospital emergency department premises for medical reasons during and up to a four hour period.”
Hee set a goal of 2,500 signatures, only to see numbers top 3,500.