Candidates for the Town of Qualicum Beach’s municipal election post signs along Village Way in Qualicum Beach. — Karly Blats Photo

Signs of the the times: inside the art of Vancouver Island roadside campaigning

Abundance of municipal election signs line roadside boulevards and residential lawns

It’s hard to miss the signs of the coming municipal election if you’re out and about around Vancouver Island.

An abundance of election signs line roadside boulevards and residential lawns urging residents to elect or re-elect council and mayoral candidates on Oct. 20.

There is some strategy when posting an election sign said veteran City of Parksville councillor Sue Powell, who isn’t seeking re-election. Corners and areas of high traffic are preferred.

She added that often her supporters would call her if they wanted to post a sign on their property.

Related: We’ve got you covered for the 2018 election

Powell has been a councillor in Parksville for 13 years and ran provincially for the NDP in 2017. She said strategies remain basically the same when running municipally and provincially, but that she bought bigger signs during her provincial campaign.

Running for council first in 2005, Powell bought about 100 signs which she continued to reuse for each following municipal election.

“Signs are a good way to advertise but you also have to get door-to-door,” she said.

As for the design, Powell had a dedicated person who would take care of her sign layout for each election.

Powell said through the years serving on council, as people became more familiar with her, she would use fewer signs during elections.

“People get to know you. I think near the end the last term I didn’t really focus too much on signs,” she said.

She said that vandalism does occur, but to not take it personally.

“It’s just part of it,” she said. “I had a hammer in my car and would put [signs] up again because they’d be knocked over. If other people’s signs were down I’d put them back up. I think it’s responsible to do that.”

Adam Fras, Parksville councilcandidate, said he has had 16 of his signs stolen in the past several weeks. He said in attempts to deter vandals from stealing his signs, he secured them extra tight with strong fishing line, but that they were cut anyways with a sharp tool.

According to City of Parksville policy, candidates must check their signs frequently to ensure they don’t create an untidy appearance or an unsafe condition.

The city does not permit election signs, campaigning or advertising on municipal property, park land, buildings or fences and structures. Signs are permitted in road rights-of-way (except landscaped boulevards) as long as the signs don’t limit visibility or create a safety hazard or hinder the safe movement of pedestrian or vehicular traffic. Signs cannot be attached to trees, sign posts or flagpoles, cannot be illuminated or placed on a vehicle or parked trailer.

If signs are erected in restricted areas, the city will remove them and candidates can reclaim them by paying a Sign Reclamation Fee within 14 days of removal.

Candidates cannot post signs or campaign within 100 metres of the voting place on general voting day (Oct. 20) or at the advance voting places. Paid advertising is also not permitted on general voting day.

Signs must be removed within three days of the municipal election.

Candidates often save their signs after the election with the idea to reuse them for a future election.

Leigh Termath, owner of Coombs Signs and More Ltd., said so far in the past month or so they’ve made a couple hundred election signs.

“It’s a mix of both, lots of small signs and quite a few big signs,” she said.

Termath said they always encourage people to recycle their signs.

“I know that people complain about the fact that they’re out there and whether they are environmentally sound…yes obviously it’s plastic but we totally encourage people to reuse those signs,” she said. “We definitely update previous councillors and put the word re-elect. We really do push that a lot.”

She added that the signs are durable and can be used for several years.

Municipal election

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