Election integrity? Still awaiting City’s responses about signs that may be placed illegally

Appears to be an election sign violation E28th-Knight, 4 pm, 4-Oct-2014

Appears to be an election sign violation E28th-Knight, 4 pm, 4-Oct-2014

(Updated Oct 25: Many signs continue to break rules, and every extra day they are up favours the perpetrators. We did receive a message on October 15, which we report on here.) Below we feature a letter a citizen sent last night to a City official asking for a clarification on election sign rules, and will provide an update if and when a response comes in. 

CityHallWatch is still waiting for word from the City regarding election signs that may be illegally placed. As we pointed out in “Election sign rule violations already: Citizen vigilance needed” on October 4, it is clear that Vision Vancouver broke the rules on the first day of official election season. Due to a citizen complaint via Twitter to @CityofVancouver, that bank of ten Gregor Robertson signs on Vanness Avenue were removed. Below we share a montage of signs that may be breaking rules. All appear to be on public land. Some are beside multi-unit buildings, and we wonder if the management or council has formally approved the political signs after due consultation with residents.

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This election could be a challenging one for integrity. Already there are concerns about the City’s new electronic systems used to track votes, voter suppression by short-changing certain neighbourhoods of advance polling stations, and the overwhelming riches of one civic party in Vancouver with deep pockets (Vision Vancouver speculated to have $6 million for this election, an army of paid workers, funded by special interests). CityHallWatch and citizens of Vancouver must put their trust in the Chief Election Officer (Janice MacKenzie, a Clerk who works for the City) to ensure that the November 2014 election is conducted with integrity and in accordance with legislation.
To get a clarification on rules regarding signs, we started communicating with City official last week. So far, we have Tweeted, wrote to the 311 info line, and to the Chief Election Officer. She wrote back saying it is the Engineering department that enforces sign rules. But we have no answer yet. Below are some photos of questionable placements.

Letter to City, by citizen Joseph Jones, dated October 7, 2014.

To:  Alan Rockett, Street Activities Coordinator, City of Vancouver
Re: Your 30 September 2014 memos re Election Campaign Advertising

I find your memos titled Use of City Streets for Election Campaign Advertising and Election Signs on Boundary Road posted by CityHallWatch at

For this reason I cc to operators of that web site on this email, and request that you copy your reply to them as well. (I have already given CityHallWatch permission to regard this communication as an open letter and to use its contents as they see fit.)

This email regards a specific complaint about election signage posted at 4216 Nanaimo Street.On the evening of 5 October 2014 I complained via Twitter to @CityofVancouver, and on the morning of 6 October 2014 by telephone to 311.

This evening 7 October 2014 I found a message recorded on my telephone answering machine. Exact transcription follows:

Hi, this is City of Vancouver. Regarding the election signage at 4216 Nanaimo. So we sent out the inspector. The inspector check it out, and that particular area between the house and the sidewalk is actually allowed. OK. What’s not allowed is on the boulevard or the sidewalk. OK? Thank you so much. It’s regarding case number 5351949.

It seems clear to me that the election signage at that location stands entirely on City of Vancouver property.

Sidewalks may be found anywhere on the land allowance that exists between front property line and street. The sidewalk therefore runs along the boulevard, whether center, inside edge, or outside edge. Quite a few boulevards have no sidewalk. It therefore does not seem feasible to use existence of a sidewalk as delineating permission to erect signage on City of Vancouver land.

I have read through Vancouver Street and Traffic By-law 2849, cited in your general memo of September 30. I further note your statement

Election signs are not permitted on any city streets including, but not limited to: city boulevards, (the area between a street and sidewalk), street centre medians, poles, streets, and sidewalks.  [emphasis mine]

I would also draw your attention to the definition of boulevard in section 3 of By-Law 2849 definitions:

“Boulevard” means:
(a)  on a street with curbs, the portion of street between the outside curb and the adjoining property line, and
(b)  on a street without curbs, the portion of street between the edge of the roadway and the adjoining property line, and on a street where traffic is separated by means of a median, includes the median.

During the 2011 Vancouver municipal election I complained to City of Vancouver about a signage located between sidewalk and property line, and it was rapidly removed by City of Vancouver.

All of the foregoing leads up to this question:

What authority does the inspector sent to 4216 Nanaimo Street have for concluding that City of Vancouver boulevard that happens to lie between sidewalk and property line constitutes an open field for erection of election signage?
This email has been composed with care, and a reply in writing would be appropriate.
Sincerely,
Joseph Jones

One thought on “Election integrity? Still awaiting City’s responses about signs that may be placed illegally

  1. Raymond Louie (Vision) election signs packed close all along Prior Street from Gore to Hawkes as drivers rush to the soon-to-be-demolished Dunsmuir (Georgia) Viaduct.
    And they are are a metre in front of the (fenced) property line, therefore on the small boulevard.
    You would think they could attach them to the fences instead. But one suspects they don’t ask the residents at all. After all the sign crew are Vision, after all.

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