Okanagan man advocates for elimination of campaign signs

They’re a staple of Canadian elections; a proliferation of campaign signs along public roads and planted in the lawns of faithful partisans promoting a political candidate and their party.

But one B.C. man is launching a campaign of his own. To have the signs banned.

“The only people that benefit from them are the sign makers and the politicians’ egos,” said Matt MacIntosh of Osoyoos. “I really don’t think they’re effective, either.”

READ MORE: More election signs vandalized in the Central Okanagan

MacIntosh started a social media crusade to eliminate or reduce the onslaught of campaign signs.

He said the signs equate to visual pollution, become the targets of vandals and ultimately end up in the trash.

“If you’ve been around for a long time and you have tons of signs already, you have this huge resource on top of anybody that’s new coming in to do the same thing,” he said.

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“They have to drop all this money initially just to get their signs up; that part of it isn’t really fair.”

Campaign signs defaced with the word fascist
Campaign signs defaced with the word fascist

Connie Denesiuk, the South Okanagan West-Kootenay Liberal candidate, agrees campaign signs should be eliminated and candidates should focus on face-to-face interaction.

“I certainly see them in the past at some point,” she said.

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But the riding’s Conservative candidate, Helena Konanz, said campaign signs serve a purpose.

“I don’t think they translate into votes, but they do give a presence so people know that you’re running,” she said. “I do believe that it can be overdone.”

READ MORE: Liberal campaign signs in B.C. defaced with blackface after Trudeau photos emerge

The incumbent NDP candidate, Richard Cannings, said he’s ambivalent about the political promotion.

Party leaders bring BC election campaign to annual Vaisahki parade
Party leaders bring BC election campaign to annual Vaisahki parade

“I agree with people that may not like the visual pollution involved at some sites, but I think they are an important part of the election process,” Cannings said.

Green party candidate Tara Howse said in a statement that she was “shocked at the grotesque number of signs littering the streets” after the writ dropped.

She said political signs can be an important opportunity to communicate in a visual way with potential voters, but the number of signs should be “drastically” limited.

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READ MORE: More than 1,000 election signs seized in Surrey for breaking bylaws

“Signs are very expensive, but they are also the epitome of single-use garbage,” said Howse.

“Nonetheless, they serve a purpose and should not be prohibited, but clearly greater regulation is required.”

The City of Surrey banned election signs on public property, citing excessive enforcement and cleanup costs, but the City of Penticton doesn’t plan to follow suit.

Hundreds of election signs confiscated in Surrey
Hundreds of election signs confiscated in Surrey

While the city regulates the location and size of campaign signs, officials told Global News it won’t scrap or cap them.

That isn’t stopping MacIntosh from continuing on his mission.

“I think it’s time for a change,” he said.