The first thing anyone will notice as election campaigns commence for the upcoming federal election is the flurry of activity surrounding the construction and erection of election signs throughout the community.
However, in the rush to get campaigns up and running, some campaign signs went up on the Maple Ridge side bordering Pitt Meadows.
What’s the big deal, one may ask?
Well, although campaign signs can be up in Pitt Meadows as long as they are put up after an election has been officially called, in Maple Ridge signs cannot be put up more than 30 days prior to an election. Meaning signs will only be allowed up in the city starting Saturday, Aug. 21.
Independent candidate Steve Ranta said he was returning from putting up signs in Pitt Meadows on Sunday when he saw volunteers from the NDP campaign putting up signs on the Maple Ridge side.
“I told them that the bylaw required them to wait until August 21. One of them checked on his phone, and said I was right. But they just continued putting up the sign,” he said.
On Monday he noticed many Conservative signs had been put up throughout the city. Again, he said, he notified them about the bylaw. But on Tuesday, he said, the signs were still up.
He then met with a bylaws officer who told him the parties would be notified to take their signs down.
By Wednesday afternoon, Ranta said, the Conservative campaign team had taken their signs down, but left the wooden frames still standing. But the NDP signs were still up. “Four days after I told the NDP sign crew about the bylaw,” he said.
The election sign bylaw was updated to the 30 day rule in April, 2020. Before that campaign teams could put up signs from when the election was announced.
People’s Party of Canada candidate Julius Hoffman put up two signs on the Maple Ridge side bordering Pitt Meadows: one along Lougheed Highway entering Maple Ridge; and the other on Dewdney Trunk Road for those travelling westbound. He received a call from bylaws and was told he had to remove them by Thursday.
“It was funny, I went through the bylaws and I think what stuck was more the size and the height and all of that sort of thing and then of course seeing others put signs up, it became an oversight on my part,” he said.
The Conservative campaign team put up about a dozen signs throughout Maple Ridge before being contacted by bylaws on Tuesday to take them down, explained campaign manager Jay Denney.
They took their signs down on Wednesday, he noted, saying that the members of the campaign team were not aware of the updated bylaw.
NDP candidate Phil Klapwyk said his signs came down on Thursday, after his campaign team put up roughly about 30 across the city.
He said his team read the bylaws for both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge before putting up the signs but had a different interpretation of the Maple Ridge bylaw.
“We had interpreted the word election to mean when the writ was dropped because at that point, pretty much anybody can vote. So, we’re in the election,” he said.
He received a message from bylaw enforcement on Wednesday.
“We did go down and talk to them Thursday morning and agreed that regardless of what interpretation, we would just wait,” he noted.
Federal Liberal candidate Ahmed Yousef said his team had not put up signs yet in Maple Ridge, saying they were respecting the bylaw.
Michelle Orsetti with the city’s bylaws department confirmed that signs will be allowed to go up on Saturday, Aug. 21. She said bylaws staff have removed some of the campaign signage and campaign teams are taking down the rest. The signs bylaws took down can be claimed by giving the department a call.
However, she said, they are also dealing with complaints related to the size of the signs being too large.
“The bylaw is intended to ensure that signs do not obstruct views for vehicles or interfere with sidewalks or cycling infrastructure, road signs and plantings on public lands,” said Orsetti, noting that the campaign teams are cooperating.
Campaign teams also need to respect private property, added Orsetti, and will be held accountable for any damage to plantings or infrastructure buried under the ground.
And, she noted, the old bylaw allowed campaign teams two weeks to remove signs from the city. The updated bylay only allows them four days.
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