With seven provincial election candidates in four parties in Chilliwack's two electoral districts set to launch campaigns in 26 days, that means signs, signs and more signs.
City council introduced a new election sign bylaw at Tuesday's meeting-but only after councillors made amendments to the number of signs permitted, the cost of the deposit for candidates and how quickly the signs have to be removed after an election.
But one aspect not addressed is the fact that the new bylaw means that some candidates might not be able to have election signs near their campaign offices.
BC Liberal candidate for Chilliwack-Hope Laurie Throness is planning on sharing a campaign office with Chilliwack electoral district Liberal candidate John Martin. The office is in the Chilliwack riding.
"[E]lection signs shall only be permitted in the electoral district in which the candidate or party being promoted is running," the new bylaw reads.
This also means that if the bylaw had been in effect last year, Gwen O'Mahony -who won the Chilliwack-Hope byelection for the NDP-would not have been allowed to have election signs near her campaign office on Young Road. That office is now O'Mahony's constituency office and is not in her riding.
Director of development Lisa Thompson, however, said that is not the intent of that part of the bylaw and if, for example, Throness had an election sign up near his campaign office, the city will not ask it to be removed.
The purpose of that aspect of the bylaw, Thompson said, is for the unique circumstance of a byelection to prevent the "clutter" of signs in a riding where there is no election.
One reason for the creation of a standalone election sign bylaw is that the standard sign bylaw cannot be amended during an election, according to director of development Lisa Thompson.
The bylaw proposed by staff suggested an increase in the deposit candidates pay for a permit from $500 to $1,000.
"This is recommended because of the difficulty in the past having candidates remove their signs after a reasonable time after an election," Thompson said.
Coun. Jason Lum said this could dissuade participation in elections and moved to keep the deposit at $500.
Staff also recommended that election signs be required to be removed from private property two days after an election, and 10 days on public property. The previous bylaw stipulated 10 days after for all sign removal.
Lum also suggested that the sign removal requirement be kept at 10 days.
A third aspect of the bylaw questioned by councillors stipulated that the number of election signs on private property be limited to one per property, something that Coun. Sue Attrill suggested be changed.
"What if it is a municipal election and someone is endorsing six candidates?" Coun. Sue Attrill asked.
Coun. Chuck Stam added that it seemed like an odd rule given that two or three people in one home might endorse different candidates.
All three amendments to the bylaw were passed unanimously by council, along with a stipulation that "contact information" rather than a phone number be required on all election signs.