October 15, 2014 - 2:51 PM
VERNON - There’s concern some political candidates are breaking rules in the Vernon municipal election race.
At a meeting Tuesday, City of Vernon staff put forward a recommendation that council direct administration to enforce a bylaw that has been around for years dictating where candidates can put signs, and where they can’t. The problem is many candidates ignore the rule and get away with it.
“This came up because there’s considerable confusion among candidates who are trying to abide by the rules that were presented to them,” Mayor Rob Sawatzky said. “They see a number of signs out there already that are not in compliance with the rules so they want to know, are they allowed to go forward and break those rules also?”
The bylaw states political signage is not permitted on city rights of way. Historically, the bylaw has only been enforced on a complaint basis, when safety or liability is in question. Now, staff is asking council to take a more proactive approach to enforcing the rule.
Coun. Brian Quiring spoke against the recommendation, insisting candidates will do it anyway and that actively policing it would be a waste of time, money and resources.
“I think we should say, back off bylaw, let the community know who’s running for the freaking election,” Quiring said.
Quiring suggested that for the two weeks prior to the election, candidates be allowed to put signs up as long as they are 30 meters from an intersection.
All candidates were made fully aware of the bylaw, and Coun. Juliette Cunningham said those who have run before and know there’s little to no enforcement are at an unfair advantage to new candidates who follow the rules.
“I would be supportive of only having signs on private property because if you can’t get enough members of the public to agree... then you’re probably in trouble anyway,” Cunningham said.
After much discussion, and without the support of Sawatzky and Cunningham, councillors resolved to keep things the way they are, with the bylaw only being enforced when complaints are issued on specific signs.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014