Election sign bans may face rough ride
Concerns over a level election field dog proposed regulations
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 06:00 am
One councillor’s proposal to limit what kind of signs can be placed where in the city during the next municipal election is getting a skeptical reaction from his peers.
Coun. Roger Lemieux issued a notice of motion Monday at council to ban all election signs on St. Albert Trail, ban all lawn signs except on private property and prohibit vehicle-mounted signs. The motion also calls for the city to open Ray Gibbon Drive and Bellerose Drive to signs, reversing rules from the 2010 election.
Coun. Wes Brodhead did not hide his feelings for the motion, which he believes will further exacerbate the gap between those candidates who have the personal financial resources to pay for large signs and those who don’t.
“If you’re going to ban this, you are putting a lot of people at risk in terms of being able to compete for a council position. Those signs are unsightly. I get it. It’s a necessary evil of a democratic society,” Brodhead said.
There are already a couple of questions popping up specifically about the proposed St. Albert Trail ban. The St. Albert Chamber of Commerce operates a digital sign candidates could purchase ads on. Numerous community groups also string large banners from the pedestrian overpass on St. Albert near St. Albert Centre.
“I think a digital sign, I don’t see a problem with that,” Lemieux said. “If someone wants to put a banner up there, people are used to looking up there and there’s no business next to that overpass.”
Coun. Cathy Heron said she sees a possibility for banning small election signs from St. Albert Trail, but enforcing a city-wide ban might be unrealistic.
“I sit on the (St. Albert) Trail committee and I notice how cluttered the trail is now,” Heron said. “During an election, it does get worse.”
But Heron said small signs have a purpose.
“It’s a way for a new person to get their name out there. The elector has a choice – they can vote against someone who has too many signs up.” Heron said, adding she has voted for people in the past who didn’t use a lot of lawn signs.
Banning small lawn signs on St. Albert Trail sits well with Coun. Malcolm Parker, but a blanket ban on all election signs of any size on the trail might be going too far, he said.
“I’m not sure I fully agree with that one. I think if you have larger signs, it’s fine.”
Lemieux’s motion will return to council for debate later this month.