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Lethbridge city council defers motion to limit election signs on public road right-of-ways

The City of Lethbridge has decided to wait on making a final decision on where election signs can and can't be placed during a campaign. The City of Lethbridge has decided to wait on making a final decision on where election signs can and can't be placed during a campaign.

Lethbridge city council admitted there are issues with election signs, but stopped short of rules prohibiting them during a meeting on Tuesday.

“This is not saying there will be no signs, this is saying because we've had such issues with sign on public land, that we're saying restricted to private land,” said Coun. Belinda Crowson.

A motion brought forward by Councillors Crowson and Jeff Carlson is directing the city manager to amend the guidelines to prohibit the installation of election signs within the public road right-of-way.

Carlson says it'll also decrease the number of illegally placed signs.

“A phone call is made to the city, the city – when they have time – goes out to remove them, then has to store them,” Carlson explained. “Then the candidate (can) come and retrieve them and often they go right back to where they were and the process starts all over again.

“It's a huge waste of time and money.”

Currently, the city has sign guidelines, which are designed to maintain the safety for citizens using the right of way, protect and maintain the life of public infrastructure within the right-of-way and to clean up visual clutter.

“I could share with you the several literature reviews that I’ve read, what they show is that signs only have a one to two per cent of changing a voter’s mind – it is incredibly small,” Crowson said. “The research doesn't show if that is on public or private property.”

During a question period, Coun. Jenn Schmidt-Rempel asked the city manager whether additional funding or support would be given so that candidates have other options to get their names out to the public. City clerk Bonnie Hilford said the city introduced new videos during the 2021 election and that outside organizations hold forums for candidates.

In the 2021 general election, 39 candidates run for council and six ran for mayor, while 23 ran for school trustee positions.

Crowson says the motion she brought forward would still allow signs to be placed on private property and electronically.

“I have had both private and public conversations with several people running in the upcoming election and they see the value of signs on private property because that shows what sort of support you have,” Crowson said.

The motion would cover all municipal, provincial, and federal elections, however, Coun. Rajko Dodic voiced concern that those running in the upcoming provincial election may have already purchased signs to be placed around the city.

Council voted 5-4 to refer the motion April 27 governance standing policy committee for further discussion. Top Stories

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