Scarborough candidates’ signs break the rules

Prospective mayors, councillors and trustees stopped at nothing to promote their campaigns for the Oct. 25 municipal elections, even breaking a few bylaws in the process.

Since Oct. 4, there have been 265 instances of illegally placed election signs in Scarborough leading to 545 removals, according to the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division (MLS).

“The most common [infraction] is placing a sign within 15 metres of an intersection,” said Fernando Aceto, coordinator in the office of the MLS director. “It exposes them more but we have to take them down.”

Chapter 693, article two of the Toronto Municipal Code outlines the rules regarding election sign placement. Signs cannot be placed on trees, medians or between a curb and sidewalk. They must also be at least 1.5 metres from a curb and 15 metres from an intersection. Also, signs cannot be larger than 1.2 metres squared or more than two metres off the ground. If an infraction occurs, the candidate is responsible and must pay a $25 fine.

“We’ve had six candidate information sessions since September, and the candidates were invited to hear what they could and could not do,” Aceto said. “We reviewed the sign bylaws. Most candidates were aware but some may not have attended.”

Most of the grunt work in election campaigns is done by volunteers. They are the ones who deliver and set up election signs on the street and on supporters’ lawns. Volunteers must also maintain the condition of the signs, since displaying damaged signs also violates the bylaw.

“The volunteers are advised by the campaign office,” said Heather Moeser, who helped run the re-election campaign of her husband, Ward 44 councillor Ron Moeser. “We direct them and we tell them what the rules are, because there are very strict rules.”

Even though they try hard to ensure that their signs are displayed correctly, Moeser said  they still receive occasional complaints.

“We are very careful of doing everything correctly,” she said. “You have to follow [the rules] very closely because the city will remove the signs if they’re not followed properly.”

Candidates are required by law to remove all of their signs by the end of day Oct. 28. If any election signs are still displayed, or if any other infractions are spotted, residents are urged to contact Toronto 311. They will forward the information on to the MLS complaints line. A bylaw officer is supposed to address the issue within 48 hours.