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Niagara's three big cities to review election lawn sign bylaws


Brampton city council banning lawn signs for all elections by Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

While there may be changes to how long lawn signs can be displayed in future elections, it doesn’t appear Niagara’s big three cities will be following Brampton’s lead of banning them outright.

“As annoying as it might be for some people to see all that visual pollution, it does serve a purpose,” said Bill Matson, clerk for the City of Niagara Falls. “I can’t imagine not having lawn signs and then the residents constantly contacting us saying, ‘I have no idea who is running.’ It is a way for candidates to get their name out there.”

During a committee of council meeting last month, Brampton politicians approved a motion to implement a bylaw that would only allow residents and businesses to display signs for their preferred candidates indoors in windows. All external signage will be prohibited for all elections, including provincial and federal. City staff told Brampton council it’s the first municipality to impose such a ban in Ontario.

Matson said while it would ultimately be a council decision, he doesn’t see Niagara Falls following suit.

“Maybe we need to tweak ours (sign bylaw) a little bit and re-look at the timelines — currently they match when the province or the feds drop the writ, and then signs go up and it’s typically 45 days and we try to match that,” he said. “Maybe we could reduce it or suggest to council that it be reduced, but I don’t really see (signs) being eliminated.”

Matson said Niagara Falls has rules in place that signs can’t be displayed on municipal property, helping to ensure they’re kept away from road allowances.

“If they’re deemed to be a sightline issue or a safety issue, staff will go in and remove those signs,” he said. “That’s the main thing, trying to keep it off city property and keep it to the point where they’re not infringing on people’s sightlines or even people walking on a sidewalk.”

Matson said prior to the next election, he thinks municipal clerks will “do our best” to come up with a more “uniformed approach” to sign rules across Niagara.

In one of its final acts of the last term, St. Catharines city council unanimously asked staff in November to come back with a report on amending the city’s sign bylaw to halve the number of days that municipal election signs can be displayed. Current rules allow signs to go up 60 days prior to voting day.

If St. Catharines adopts a 30-day limit, the municipality will have the shortest period for displaying municipal election signs in Niagara. The other 11 municipalities have bylaws that allow signs to go up from 35 days before the election to more than 60.

Welland allow signs to be displayed 45 days before election day.

Tara Stephens, clerk for the City of Welland, said there were comments made during the recent election about the municipality’s sign bylaw.

“I think it’s something that I’ll be reviewing and presenting to council in the future,” she said. “I wouldn’t say in the near future, because we have other matters to consider currently, but there were a number of candidates that even had concerns with it as well. I think considering that so many municipalities have reviewed (their) sign bylaw, I have a feeling that maybe one of our members of council may potentially put a notice of motion on the floor for us to review it and then consider those options as well.”

Stephens said it would be “up to the will of council” whether an outright ban on lawn signs is considered.

“I don’t know if there’s a majority appetite for that to happen at this time, but (a review of the sign bylaw is) definitely something that’s on my to-do list — either next year or the year after, if council doesn’t direct me to do it sooner.”

Last Modified: January 15, 2023 03:16 PM
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