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Ontario election 2018: What are the rules for campaign signs?

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With the first official week of the Ontario election close to finishing, campaign signs are starting to appear across the province.

“This is an instance where old-school marketing techniques still are perceived as having sway on people’s decision-making,” Ryerson University Professor Myer Siemiatycki told Global News.

“Yes there’s social media, but I think among political parties and even among voters, there’s a sense you gauge the degree of popular support for various candidates, various political parties by the number of signs that you see plastered around your community and your constituency.”

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However, there have also been complaints on social media about signs improperly placed on public and private property.

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“Election complaint coming: this @OntarioPCParty sign appeared on my parents lawn in Markham without any permission,” Marcus Kolga tweeted on Saturday.

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“@OntLiberal Hi, you put an election sign on my front porch without my ok. That’s not cool. Please confirm you’ll come and remove the sign ASAP. Thanks,” Katharine Harris tweeted.

“A PC candidate has put signs along York Mills on municipal property between curb and sidewalk. Isn’t that illegal?” Jack McGraw asked the City of Toronto’s 311 account on Twitter.

So what are the rules surrounding the placement of election signs? It depends where you live in Ontario.

Jessica Pellerin, a spokesperson with Elections Ontario, said provincial law doesn’t govern where signs are placed — just that authorization is needed.

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“When placing signs on private property, it is recommended to contact the owner of the property for obtaining permission to do so. When placing signs on public property, consult the local municipality to see what local bylaws allow, or when placing signs near a highway, consult the Ministry of Transportation,” she told Global News.

“No specific language is required for the authorization but it must be apparent what person or entity has caused the advertisement to appear and any other person or entity that has sponsored or paid for it.”

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Here are highlights of sign bylaws in five Ontario cities:

Toronto
– signs can’t be illuminated, attached to trees or block sightlines for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists
– signs put up lawfully can’t be moved, damaged or removed without the consent of the candidate or property owner
– signs can be put on a highway or public utility pole on a highway, can’t be within 1.5 metres of a curb, 0.6 of either side of a sidewalk, 15 metres of an intersection of collector or arterial road, three metres of an intersection of a local road, on a medium or island, next to a voting place, park or City of Toronto facility

Ottawa
– for private property, temporary election signs are allowed 60 days before election day
– for public property, signs are allowed 30 days before election day
– signs can’t be placed on highways, within 50 centimetres of a sidewalk or two metres of a roadway without a sidewalk

Hamilton
– signs are to be displayed on private property unless “displayed as a poster”
– signs can’t be bigger than 1.5 square metres

London
– signs can’t interfere with vehicular traffic, pedestrian safety or maintenance operations by city staff, can’t be illuminated, can’t be bigger than six square metres (unless at the campaign office or on a billboard)
– signs can’t be placed on public property, in a roadway, within three metres of a roadway, between a roadway and a sidewalk, less than three metres from a crosswalk, in a boulevard abutting a park or within 10 metres of another election sign of the same candidate

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Barrie
– Signs cannot be placed on or overhanging municipal property, utility poles, light standards, City of Barrie signs, trees, at voting locations, or in locations that obstruct visibility for drivers or fire exits
– signs that move or have moving illumination are prohibited

For information on all other areas in Ontario or to file a complaint, contact your local municipality.