It will be a freedom of expression political signage free-for-all in Vernon’s 2018 municipal election.
Council opted in a 4-2 vote to set aside a bylaw that curtailed election signs from being posted on public property.
In forwarding the resolution, Coun. Brian Quiring said upholding the signage bylaw strained the bylaw department resources to enforce it, and what signs are removed tend to go right back up again anyway.
Coun. Scott Anderson supported the resolution in the interests both of free expression and for new candidates to have an opportunity to gain some name recognition.
“Political signs are a way for people to get their name out there,” Anderson said.
The signage rule change would come in effect three weeks before the election, and any signage that creates a safety hazard on public property, such as blocking the sightlines of drivers, will still not be permitted.
Mayor Akbal Mund voted against the motion, saying the bylaw amendment will generate complaints from the public.
“I didn’t display any signs on public property,” Mund said of his last election campaign. “There are other ways for new candidates to get their name out there.”
He said the possibility of candidates putting 30 or 40 signs in a row on public property will likely generate complaints from the public, a response that generated the perceived need for the bylaw to begin with.
In the past, a bylaw that disallowed election signs on public property was ignored by many candidates.
“The signs are going to end up everywhere anyway,” Quiring pointed out during the council session. “It’s a free-for-all.”
Coun. Catherine Lord and Mund opposed the motion.
“I want to warn the public there will be a lot of littering around town,” said Lord. “Last time, we had a lot of complaints.”