Election signs at the corner of Horton St. and Wharncliffe Road in London, Ontario on Thursday, October 2, 2014
The municipal election may be a year away, but city politicians are already tied up debating the rules for campaigning.
A Tuesday committee meeting marked the fourth time politicians have discussed a bylaw to cut down on candidate signs that line city streets before an election.
But politicians wanted yet more changes, to Coun. Tanya Park’s great frustration.
“We have to remind ourselves of why we started down this path. It’s to clear a lot of clutter that happens at election time,” she said. “This our fourth kick at the can, so let’s just get up and running.”
Londoners were vocal about overwhelming sign “pollution” and safety concerns that came along with those displays, staff said.
But politicians weren’t happy with the revised bylaw.
Corporate services committee members took issue with a proposed 0.9-metre limit for the height of signs, the five-metre setback from the road, and how long volunteers would have to remove signs after a vote.
Politicians asked staff to amend the bylaw, giving candidates four days after the election to get their signs down instead of three.
The concern, politicians said, is about creating a fair bylaw — not one that’s going to get them re-elected.
Coun. Josh Morgan, the lone vote against the proposed bylaw, argued the rules may put political rookies at a disadvantage.
“Let’s be honest, signs are effective in getting name recognition out there,” he said. “(The bylaw) is starting to create a situation where you can’t really put signs in very many spots. There’s got to be a balance between having signs everywhere, and having them nowhere.”
Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert questioned the five-metre setback: “I understand the public safety element, but . . . you’re going to be removing most of those signs across the city.”
Staff said the rule lines up with the city’s policy for other signs. It’s intended to make roads safe for drivers and pedestrians.
Coun. Harold Usher argued the 0.9-metre height limit on signs within five metres of an intersection should be increased to 1.2 metres. (Signs farther from the road could be up to four metres high under the proposed bylaw.) His motion to make that change lost on a tie vote.
Hubert and Usher were in favour, Morgan and Park opposed. The proposed bylaw goes to council next week.