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With two elections coming next year, Cobourg Town staff want to put a new bylaw in place to regulate election signs,  The Province recently passed a law about Municipal Elections that changes the rules for advertising – amongst other things.  The combination of the Provincial Law and the proposed Town By-Law will make significant differences to election signs when they start getting deployed next year.  There will likely be more of them since Condo owners and Apartment tenants will face fewer restrictions and third party signs will have more information.

Provincial Changes

The new Bill 181 covers a wide range of  issues – the key changes are:

  • Corporate and union donations are banned for municipal elections.
  • Candidates may file nominations only between May 1st and the fourth Friday in July (July 27, for the 2018 election).
  • Ranked ballots are allowed – Cobourg Council chose not to do that
  • Third parties wanting to support a particular candidate must register and may accept contributions from corporations and unions. Their signs must include a telephone number, mailing address or email address at which the registered third party may be contacted.
  • Signs must be allowed in the windows of Condos or Apartments.
  • The prohibition on bribes to run for office has been expanded to prohibit bribes to NOT run for office.  (They don’t use the word “bribe” but that’s what they mean).
  • Nominations now require signatures from 25 eligible voters (but not for School Board nominations).
  • There are also changes in contribution limits and a number of other (mostly administrative) changes – see a plain language description of Bill 181 by the Ontario Government here.  One thing is clear, the Clerk will have more things to do both before and after an election.

The proposed seven page bylaw will replace section 11(4) in ByLaw 008-2009 (Cobourg’s Sign By-Law)

11 (4) Despite the provisions of Paragraph 14 of this By-law, election signs shall be permitted on private property only for a period commencing the day the electoral writ is issued and terminating on the relevant polling day, provided the said signs do not obstruct or interfere with the vision of vehicular traffic. No permit shall be required for such signs.

New Town of Cobourg ByLaw

  • The proposed bylaw implements changes to the dates when signs may be displayed per the above Provincial requirements
  • Signs may only be on Private Property
  • Illuminated signs are allowed if the sign has a Town of Cobourg permit (Para 5.4) or prohibited (Para 2.2 a)
  • Signs must be no larger than 4ft x 4ft (para 5.1 a) or 10sq metres (para 2.2 b)
  • Signs may not include the logo, trademark, official mark, or crest of the Town of Cobourg is prohibited. (para 2.6)
  • The number of election signs may be no more than two election signs per candidate on land zoned residential, and no more than three election signs per candidate on land zoned other than Residential.
  • Signs must be removed within 72 hours of 11:59 p.m. of the day of the election
  • Election signage on a motor vehicle which is parked or located for the primary purpose of displaying an election sign is prohibited.
  • Removing a sign requires the consent of the candidate to the sign relates or the owner of the property on which the sign is erected. (Para 2.4)
  • Nowhere is it specified that the permisson of the property owner is required although that may be covered elsewhere or is self-evident.
  • Enforcement is by the Municipal Clerk or designate and the Municipal By-law Enforcement Officer(s) for the Town of Cobourg. 

The new bylaw will be presented to Council at the next Committee of the Whole Meeting on September 11, 2017.

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