Proposed Revelstoke municipal election sign restrictions raise concerns

Controversial election bylaw points would restrict Revelstoke municipal election sign size to no more than two feet by two feet, even on private property, and restrict property owners to one sign per property, even allowing bylaw officers to remove non conforming signs.

City staff are recommending restrictions on election campaign signs be added to the city's election bylaw in preparation for the local general election this fall.

A proposed size restriction on election campaign signs didn’t sit well with Revelstoke City Council, who raised concerns over the city’s ability to enforce such a bylaw on private property.

City staff made the recommendation to restrict the size of election campaign signs to no larger than two feet by two feet as part of amendments to the election bylaw in preparation for the upcoming municipal election this fall. The bylaw also proposes a limit of one sign per location, including on private property.

The bylaw would also allow only one election sign in one location, including on private property, and provisions in the bylaw would allow bylaw officers to enter onto private property to remove a non-conforming signage, such as a sign that is bigger than two feet by two feet, or more than one sign on a property.

The bylaw also proposed limiting candidates to a total of six signs on public property, and would require candidates to submit a map showing their locations to the elections officer.

Watch discussion of the proposed election bylaw changes here

Mayor Mark McKee, who stated he will not be running in the election said he felt restricting the size of election signs, particularly on private property, is too officious and restrictive.

“I’m a little bit concerned about it. I think there should be a bit of individualism allowed,” he said.

A report to council noted city staff received several complaints during the 2014 local government election regarding election signage and lack of regulation. As a result staff are recommending regulations.

Also proposed in the bylaw is changes to how the voter list system works. It would up the identification requirement to two pieces of ID from one, including a piece of photo ID that showed the voter’s location of residence.

One of the main changes in the proposed bylaw was less controversial at the council table. The bylaw introduces an electronic voting system, which essentially introduces digital voting machines at the polls. The staff report said the system would be less cumbersome than the existing paper ballot system.

City staff recommended council pass first, second, and third readings of the Election and Assent Voting Procedures bylaw at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 22. However, council opted instead to pass a motion for first and second readings only in order to allow for public comment and feedback.

In order to meet statutory requirements for the upcoming election council will need to have final reading of the motion to amend the election bylaw at its June 26 meeting.