‘Visual pollution’: Two capital region councillors want to restrict municipal campaign signs

‘Visual pollution’: Two capital region councillors want to restrict municipal campaign signs

Not just one, but two capital region municipal councillors are on a bent to ban municipal campaign signs. They say they’re visually obnoxious, environmentally irresponsible, and hand an advantage to those who have more financial backing.

“It really is visual pollution, let alone the environmental pollution,” said Colwood Coun. Ian Ward, who has written a motion aiming to restrict campaign signs size and number of locations.

“The signs start losing their value over time. And I think folks are sick and tired of it,” he said Wednesday,

You know the routine, every fourth year, the third Saturday in October is municipal election day. Leading up to the date, lawns are littered with campaign signs.

“The funny thing about the history of election signs is it’s actually very ancient. They go back to ancient Rome during the days of the republic. Candidates would have their slogans ‘vote for me’ written onto walls. It was also the beginning of political trash-talk,” said Royal Roads University communication and culture professor David Black.

Sure, they’ve got a long history, but do they have a place in our modern digital landscape? At least two South Island councillors say no.

“It is very much obnoxious in my opinion,” said Ward.

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Municipal election signs are pictured in Greater Victoria in this file photo.

Escalating the sign wars is Victoria Coun. Dave Thompson who is looking to ban them province-wide.

“I think it’s easier for the province to do it, they have the legislative authority, they have the financial capacity and they can set a level playing field for all municipalities,” said Thompson.

In a motion going forward to Victoria council at a Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, Thompson is also asking for the same access to multi-family buildings that provincial and federal campaigners have, and a more concerted effort to let people know about municipal elections through social media.

“Something like 80 per cent of Victorians live in multifamily buildings. If we want them to participate, we have to get in those buildings,” said Thompson.

Ask anyone in municipal politics and they’ll tell you, name recognition is everything. Both councillors say campaign signs hand an unfair advantage to the candidates who have donors with deeper pockets or higher budgets.

Black says the change would unfairly favour candidates who are already elected.

“Municipal politics is the last place where citizen politics really thrives. At the provincial and federal level candidates are groomed. At the municipal level you can go from concerned citizen to mayor of Langford in a matter of a few weeks,” said Black, referring to Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson’s recent election ousting long-time mayor Stew Young.

“In [campaign signs’] absence, the already significant power of incumbent candidates is even heightened,” he said.

The motion to ban campaign signage in Colwood will be heard in two weeks, and the motion in Victoria will be heard on Oct. 12.

A previous article stated councillor Ward wanted to ban campaign signs, Ward later clarified his motion to CHEK News.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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