Burnaby fines federal parties $28,500 for breaking election sign rules

Liberals had most signs found in violation, but Conservatives and NDP were close behind

The Liberal Party of Canada violated Burnaby’s election sign bylaws more than any other party during the 2019 federal election, according to the city.

Municipal staff found 146 signs in violation, 33% of which belonged to the Liberals, followed by the Conservatives (26%), NDP (25%), People’s Party (12%) and Greens (1%).

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But the number of rule-breaking signs was lower than during the Feb. 25 Burnaby South byelection, when 250 were found. That vote – which gave NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh his first seat in the House of Commons – only had one of Burnaby’s three ridings going to the polls. 

The campaigns did a better job of following the rules thanks to city council strengthening its temporary sign bylaw right before the election, according to city spokesperson Chris Bryan. 

The city does not allow temporary signs on public property or anywhere they could create a traffic hazard by obstructing sightlines. 

In September, council increased the fine for violating signs to $500. It also passed a $300 fine for placing a sign on a vacant property without the owner’s consent. 

Campaigns were allowed to put signs on private property at the beginning of the election period, but had to take them down within four days of the election. City staff didn’t have to take any signs down after election day, Bryan said in an email.

“It turns out the changes made by council to the sign bylaw resulted in a pretty significant difference in the behaviour of our local political parties,” he said. 

“This is a positive thing for Burnaby residents – temporary election signs can be an eyesore, but they can also pose a risk to public safety.”

During the first week of the campaign, parties were given a “grace period,” during which city staff did not remove signs or issue fines. After that the city found 109 violating signs and issued $28,500 in fines, according to Bryan. 

Jay Shin, the Conservative candidate in Burnaby South, had the most signs found in violation from a single candidate, accounting for more than 15% of the citywide total. He was followed by Burnaby South Liberal Neelam Brar (12.3%), New Westminster-Burnaby Liberal Will Davis (11%), Burnaby North-Seymour Liberal Terry Beech (10.3%) and Singh (9.6%)

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