Charlottetown backtracks on election sign rules

Some campaign signs in Charlottetown that were put up after the election call, then removed, are being put up again after the City told the campaigns via email Friday they can post signs nine days earlier than allowed under its bylaw.

Charlottetown made a change to its zoning bylaw following the 2015 federal election campaign — which lasted 78 days — preventing signs in any municipal, provincial or federal election from going up more than 30 days before the vote.

On Wednesday, campaign workers for the Green Party put up signs as soon as the writ period began, only to take the signs down again hours later after learning about the bylaw change.

Other campaigns seemed a bit perplexed at first — the Liberals saying they would honour the bylaw, the Conservatives saying they were not aware of it — when the city tried to clear things up via email.

"The bylaw states that election signs are to only be put out 30 days prior to election day, and 7 days after election day," clarified the city's community liaison officer Ronnie McPhee in the email, sent to all parties.

'Prepared to allow'

When the email went out Thursday, there were still 39 days left in the campaign.

Randy McAndrew/CBC

"We are coming off of a busy weekend with Hurricane Dorian and our staff have been working incredibly hard returning our capital back to the state it was prior to the storm," the email continued. 

"We are prepared to allow the nine extra days so our staff can focus on hurricane clean up rather than tearing down election signs."

Both the Liberals and Greens said they would start putting up signs in light of the city's willingness to relax its bylaw.

The Conservatives said they were told that the bylaw would be changed to allow signs to stay up for 40 days.

Joe Byrne, who was acclaimed as the candidate for the NDP in Charlottetown Thursday, said he has signs left over from his previous campaigns and has a crew ready to start putting them up Saturday.

Stratford decides bylaw will be enforced

Across the Hillsborough River in the Town of Stratford however, where a similar bylaw is in place, the town's CAO said a majority of council had decided that bylaw should be enforced.

Randy McAndrew/CBC

Robert Hughes told CBC News that town staff were in the process of contacting the various campaigns about the bylaw, and that he expected them to comply.

Hughes said he didn't think the town had the authority to take down signs, but could instead issue fines if campaigns kept the signs up outside the 30-day window.

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