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Hamilton allows election signs near polling locations
March 1, 2022
Kevin Werner

Hamilton has restricted where and when candidates for provincial or municipal office can put up signs during the campaign.

Councillors agreed at their Feb. 23 meeting to prohibit election signs on public property, including boulevards and bus stops. Candidates will also have to follow regulations on where vehicles with election wraps can be parked and for how long.

But the election sign restrictions are less onerous than what had been proposed by City Clerk Andrea Holland. In the original proposal, election signs would be banned within 100 metres from a polling location during advance voting and on election day, as well as from all boulevards, including in front of residential homes.

The sign prohibition from polling locations was then revised to 25 metres, but after councillors continued to object to the restriction, it was eventually removed altogether from the bylaw.

Other municipalities, such as Guelph, Kingston and Barrie, had banned election signs within a 50- to 100-metre radius from a polling place.

“It would be unfair for the residents (in the area),” said Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann.

“I want to thank staff for continuing to listen to what committee members had to say and simplify it,” said Stoney Creek Coun. Maria Pearson.

Election signs have always been prohibited from the city’s public properties and boulevards, but councillors say the majority of residents don’t realize where their property abuts the public property portion of their residence.

Mountain Coun. John-Paul Danko said in past elections, candidates usually installed signs on boulevards without any repercussions. What happens, he said, is another candidate videotapes the illegal signs and files complaints with the city.

“The reality is signs are put in ditches, etc.,” said Danko. “They don’t know where the property line is.”

Clerks revised the bylaw to state that election signs are banned from any portion of the road allowance “excluding the portion of front or side yard between the sidewalk, ditch or established edge of roadway and the property line.”

Monica Ciriello, manager of municipal law enforcement, said enforcing prohibited election signs is complaint-driven. Once a complaint is made, she said, a bylaw officer will first request the candidate and/or private individual to remove before issuing a fine.

The revised bylaw -- which Aine Leadbetter, manager of elections, said was an attempt to clarify and update the document for the provincial election June 2 and municipal election Oct. 24 -- will allow hand-held election signs on public property, including at city hall and the municipal service centres. Candidates for the municipal election can file papers to run starting May 2.

The bylaw does not impact third-party advocacy signs for a particular issue, such as light-rail transit or urban expansion.

In addition, Ciriello said vehicles with “wraps” around their vehicles promoting a candidate will be allowed and can park in a school or other locations.

“It is permitted on public and private property,” said Ciriello. “But they can’t be left there. It must be used as a vehicle.”