All signs point to waste
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 19, 2013 06:00 am
Autumn is a gorgeous time of year but you wouldnít know it. All of the campaign signs that have bedecked most of the cityís public spaces are like an outbreak of measles on a sick kidís face.
An election lasts one day but a campaign is a whole month of advertisements. Sure, the cycle has to repeat itself every few years for municipal, provincial and federal politicians plus school trustee wannabes but donít they all know their signs are a complete eyesore, a nuisance for drivers, and a blight on the environment?
Candidates know full well that getting into office is in no small part based on name recognition. Problem is, it isnít enough for people to know your name. Itís more about what your name means, things like economic use of campaign funding or prudence when it comes to public presence.
If you donít realize how much this problem affects your sightline or your view, then just drive down Poirier Avenue between Campbell Road and Sir Winston Churchill Avenue. The kilometre-long stretch is always scenic and itís still 99.9 per cent unfettered by campaign signs.
Now take a look just around the corner at Sir Winston Churchill Avenue going down to Sturgeon Road. Notice any trees? Probably not. The natural scenery between the two drags is comparable except the latter is an absolute battleground of two-dimensional political posturing.
It wasnít too long ago when city council debated the bylaws on portable sign usage along St. Albert Trail yet there has barely ever been any issue of propriety during election season. The double standard is clear as our main thoroughfare is now a major advertising battleground.
How many of us can honestly say that they voted based even remotely on a candidateís use of signage? Does it make any kind of difference to how people cast their ballots? Does it help get votes if you put your name up every six feet along the road?
Truth be told, Iíd be more inclined to vote for candidates who actually knocked on my door rather than tried to drill their names into my consciousness through signage. Iím home most evenings but there is not one single candidate that Iíve ever met on my doorstop, including the one who lives right on my block.
Signage is one of the first ways that we get introduced to those wishing to hold public office and itís certainly the most basic and perfunctory. Iím unimpressed. There are only a few candidates, names withheld, who are sparse with their signage and only one that Iím somewhat hard-pressed to spot on any roadside. I like that. My vote leans toward those who arenít pests.
After Monday, none of this material will matter, however. Everything goes to the dump. Itís too late to take back the waste and the damage but something good can still come of it.
All candidates Ė both winners and losers Ė should donate the wood to Habitat for Humanity, or anyone with a home reno project that could use a bit of lumber. There are enough 2x4s to make a house. It could be shingled with plastic signs too. Providing decent shelter might be the best that any of these 18 people could ever hope to give back to the citizens of St. Albert.
Scott Hayes is a reporter for the St. Albert Gazette.