Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Victoria city councillor calls on province to ban use of ‘wasteful’ election signs


One Victoria city councillor has drafted an official recommendation to the province to ban the use of election signs to sway voters among other practices he would like to see reformed. 

Councillor Dave Thompson believes that elections on a municipal level are full of problematic practices that end up deterring voters in specific demographics from casting a vote.

Thompson says that election signs are wasteful, attract vandalism and give an unfair advantage to candidates who have a higher budget than others.

“I had a lot of people talk to me about how they hated the clutter of the campaign signs,” said Councillor Thompson. “Certainly, they go into the landfill a lot of them. Some might be able to get reused, sometimes but they are quite a mess, people get tired of it.”

“Candidates are going to use them if they’re allowed because, basically, the advice that I got from experts was that if you don’t use them, you’ll lose,” he continued.

In addition to this he says that municipal elections canvassers have very little access to multi-family homes and condos, which makes up the bulk of Victorians’ living situations.

However, these problem areas are out of the city’s hands and it is up to the province and Elections BC to reform their rules, regulations and legislation to coax more voters out to the polls on the next election day. 

“Young people and renters aren’t voting and that’s a serious problem for Victoria because renters are actually 61% of our residents… If the majority of our residents are underrepresented in the polls, we have a serious problem with democracy,” said Councilor Thompson.

“I would like to see the province do more to achieve a higher voter participation rate and there’s a lot of ways they could do that in this information age.”

He believes in this modern age, there are better ways to inform voters about candidates and their platforms than to use wasteful signs that are expensive and in many ways, obsolete. 

Thompson’s recommendation to the province is to:

  • Provide municipal canvasssers the same access to multifamily buildings as provincial and federal canvassers
  • Eliminate, or restrict the number and location of, election signs in municipal elections while and enhancing other methods of informing citizens 
  • Do more to achieve a higher voter participation rate in municipal elections by young adults and renters

Councillor Krista Loughton was the seconder of the proposed motion, saying the wastefulness of the signs was a big deal to her as well.

Meanwhile Councillor Stephen Hammond says he disagrees about the election signs, saying that it grants an advantage to incumbent candidates and that he believes there would be an even lower turnout if election signs were to be banned. 

City council picked apart the recommendations in the motion to have it more focussed on enhancing and modernizing election sign usage and regulations on a provincial level. 

The councillors voted with the majority in favour of the amended motion to advocate to the province to amend electoral practices on a higher level for the best interest of all municipalities in BC.

Curtis Blandy

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