With the City of Mission considering changes to campaign sign bylaws, Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis wrote to the mayor and council with concerns about any adjustments.
”While some limits are necessary to ensure our roads are safe and the view of drivers’ is not impeded, other limits on campaign advertising risk undue negative impacts on our democratic processes,” Vis wrote to council.
“It is a slippery slope to inhibit freedom of expression, especially during campaigns when debate and discussion of our values is at the forefront.”
A motion was carried unanimously during Dec. 5’s council meeting to review options for restricting campaign signs during federal, provincial and municipal elections.
Councillor Ken Herar put forth the motion, proposing restrictive zones for campaign signs in future elections. He says he appreciates Vis’s input but reiterated the need for changes to campaign signs.
“We haven’t got the results for a premature comment like that,” Herar said. “We’re not taking anybody’s rights away. We’re trying to reform [the bylaws] so we’re more effective.”
Herar says the signs lead to issues with vandalism and disposal. He hopes Mission can follow other municipalities’ lead and experiment with new regulations.
Herar also says campaign signs can be a hurdle for lower-income people with ambitions to run in a municipal election. Mayor Paul Horn voted in favour of the December motion and echoed Herar’s sentiments.
“They’re very costly and they provide a bit of a barrier at a municipal level to the person who wants to run on a limited budget,” Horn said. “That is not a great barrier, especially given the fact that they’re not really getting much information to the voter.”
During the council meeting in December, Horn spoke about how his views on campaign signs shifted over the years and called them wasteful, expensive and environmentally unsound.
City of Mission staff will prepare a report for council.