Do election signs make a difference? Why do commercial property owners and developers allow signs on their properties?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 14th, 2018



Walter Wiebe advised the Gazette earlier in the week that a developer told him that he had an ‘exclusive agreement’ to place lawn signs on his land. Walter was told this after he mistakenly thought he could place signs anywhere they did.

A candidate who asked not to be named asks: “

If that is true, I believe it amounts to a corporate donation of advertising services, and is contrary to Ontario elections law. Placing lawn signs on commercial property is already a grey area … unless you claim that the signs have no value, how do you justify commercial property providing lawn sign space under the new law?

It further implies a formal agreement between developers and property interests to help Kim Calderbank, Rick Goldring which will not do any of them any good in Ward 2. Both candidates are struggling to find locations on residential property in Ward 2. In my opinion it is a serious political misjudgement, as well as step across the line from a ‘grey area’ to a clearly illegal area. If commercial properties wish to donate lawn sign space to all candidates equally, that would be a different story.

Candidate Weibe appears to be making the most of the issue.

Roland Tanner, a candidate for the ward 2 seat said: “I find it very disappointing in the current municipal climate that some candidates are alleged to have entered into agreements with developers and commercial property owners.

The candidates should clarify immediately whether the allegation is true. The legality of any such an agreement, which can be argued to amount to an illegal corporate donation of advertising services, should be addressed by the city. My campaign does not request or want any sign locations on non-residential property, least of all property owned by developers, as it is essential voters know I represent their interests above all else.

Regardless, residents can already judge for themselves which candidates are able to get support from residents, and which candidates depend on wealthy developer backing for personal donations and sign locations.”

Just where is the city Clerk on all this? Missing in Action?

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18 comments to Do election signs make a difference? Why do commercial property owners and developers allow signs on their properties?

  • Wendy Moraghan

    To respond to Carie DeMunck’s comment about signs posted on the west side of Appleby Line, didn’t Mary Alice St James recently have quite a few signs posted there ? Which were removed. Also did she not have signs on the south side of Upper Middle Road on the vacant ,privately owned property ? “all undeveloped land in Ward 5 that is owned by the Paletta family.” these signs were highly perched on 10 feet wooden stakes. Following the rules ?? I think not.
    Honest and forthright ? I think not. “MaryAlice has no signs placed with any ties to commercial or development properties.” Guess the election rules only apply to some. Carie DeMunck will you respond by saying “it is possible a mistake was made.”

  • Wendy Moraghan

    It’s very disappointing that some candidates are not following the rules that we were each given when we registered. It clearly states that you are NOT allowed to put signs on City property, being boulevards, parks, etc. If you want to post on private property, other than private residences, then you need permission from the property owner. This includes vacant lots and plazas. I recently had all my large signs removed from the privately owned lot at Upper Middle Road west of Burloak, not once but twice. I had permission to have my large signs posted there, yet someone removed all of them. It would not have been an easy task, they were staked into the ground 12 inches. I have contacted the City and they did not remove these signs. I’ve had 8 signs removed from one private residence on Calvert Place, disgusting…this is a family member of mine. The plaza at the south west corner of Appleby Line and Spruce is another spot I have permission to have signs, as does a mayoral candidate, another ward 5 candidate and a ward 4 candidate. When a candidate posts signs in areas they do not have permission, then signs are removed by property owners, simple as that. Why can’t we all play by the rules we were given. I am now out over $400.00 of donated funds and unable to replace my large signs. Thank you to whoever did it, I hope that you can sleep at night.

  • Bonnie

    This comment is directed to Wendy Moraghan a candidate running in ward 5. To believe that a polite phone call to a developer, will gain you permission to place a sign on their property, has proven to be untrue. A candidate running for the council seat in ward 4, sent two requests to the property owner (developer) asking for permission to place a sign at the corner of Appleby and Fairview along with many other campaign signs. The candidate received a negative reply on both occasions. This to me shows, as mentioned above, it is ‘corporate donation for advertising services’.

  • Wendy Moraghan

    To respond to Carie DeMunck’s comment about “ELECTION RULES make it so that candidates are at a disadvantage when it comes to name recognition”, I made NO comment about this being “against the rules”, I merely stated the incumbent has an advantage when it comes to name recognition. The election rules are simple Carie, each candidate received a copy of the rules and those should have been shared with their “team” prior to erecting election signs. The document we received in our packages from The Corporation of the City of Burlington 18-2018 By-law to regulate election signs in the City of Burlington File: 790-01 (PB-19-18) clearly states the rules:
    Part 3 : General Provisions 3.3 “no person shall display an Election Sign at any location other than entirely on private property” CITY BOULEVARDS are NOT private property
    Part 3: General Provisions 3.5 “no person shall display an Election Sign on private property without the permission or consent of the Owner of the property”
    ANY PRIVATELY OWNED LANDS, where my signs are posted, I received permission from the property owner prior to erecting my signs. Did the Mary Alice St James Team receive that permission? Perhaps you aren’t aware that some of St James’ election signs have been placed on privately owned property as well as City and or Halton Region property, as well as the Town of Oakville lands. We all need to PLAY BY THE RULES

    • Kerri

      Wow, all of your SHOUTING is giving me a headache. I think people can read your message without the all cap dialogue.

    • Carie

      Wendy, I made no ill will comment toward you, and the Kerri comment above this is not my comment. I was simply stating that we agree with you that name recognition is everything. I was not taking pot shots at you or your campaign. Unfortunately thats the trouble with written comments….context gets lost.

  • Both Jack Dennison and Paul Sharman have signs on Appleby Line property under development by Coral Gables. I consider this commercial land.
    Will signs from the other Ward 4 and 5 candidates be allowed on this site? If not, then I suggest that their signs on this property contravenes election rules.

  • Harry Williams

    As a lifetime resident of Burlington and an entrepreneur and business owner, I am a stakeholder as a residential properry owner but as well as a businnes owner. City council can have a dramatic affect on my business and therefore my livlihood. Being able to support a candidate whos views I believe align with my business goals and future by putting their signs in my business or on my properties is my right and priveledge. I read this article and instead of jumping on and commenting without knowing the facts, it seems I am the only one that actually looked up the by-law to see what the actual rules are. An election sign can be placed on a property as long as permission is granted by the owner. The by-law defines a person as “A Person means an individual, partnership, corporation, business trust, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, joint stock company, trust, unincorporated association, joint venture, company or other entity.”

    You can search the by-law by going to the City of Burlington website and searching bylaw 18-2018.

    I own businesses in several cities and I have placed an election sign at all of them for the candidates that I am supporting.

    So tell me where is the gray area? Why in the world would my support as a “person,” for a candidate, by placing a sign at my business, be a third party advertising camapign? How is this a corporate donation? It’s pretty cut and dry in the by-law. There’s no need for the City Clerk to clarify anything if you would do your research. Stop spreading rumours and get the facts people.

  • Jim Young

    The article asks the question “Do election signs make a difference?”
    I suggest the voters have the opportunity to make the signs make a difference.
    If there are more signs for a candidate on you neighbour’s lawns that may suggest the folks in you neighbourhood support that candidate.
    If candidates have lawn signs on commercial developments that may suggest that commercial developers support those candidates.
    Voters get to decide whether they align with their neighbours or the developers.
    Seems strange that the elections officer has ruled citizens cannot put a small sign on their cars while commercial property owners can put huge signs up on their property.
    It will be intersting to see if this is construed as 3rd party advertising by the elections officer.
    Meanwhile use you own judgement to tell you whose lawn signs you’d rather vote for.

  • Stephen White

    It’s my understanding that no election signs are permitted on commercial or public properties in Burlington. The rules are different in other communities, and in Oakville, it is not uncommon to see election signs on public boulevards, etc. as a drive along Lakeshore Road, Rebecca Street or Burloak Drive will confirm.

    Bonnie’s question is timely and reflective of what many of us are wondering: where indeed is the City Clerk? There is all sorts of righteous indignation when candidates post signs on their car (or the fridge in JIm Young’s case – lol!!). However, a Mayoralty candidate is defamed in a blatant, crass attempt by anonymous and unspecified interests with presumably, deep pockets and vested interests intent on skirting registration as third party advertisers, and this warrants only a cursory investigation. Now we suddenly have signs emerging on commercial properties despite the fact that corporations, supposedly, cannot make donations in money or in kind.

    We really do have our priorities horribly distorted in this City.

  • Wendy Moraghan

    As a candidate running in Ward 5 against an incumbent who has been on city council for 2 terms, it puts myself and other candidates at a disadvantage with regards to name recognition. When one sees the incumbent’s sign placed on several properties throughout Ward 5 and just outside the Ward, one needs to try and take the same advantage. It’s amazing what a mere phone call made to a property owner, in a genuine and polite manner can result in. I made that call and the result was permission to place my election signs on those same properties that the incumbent put his signs. A campaign isn’t all about “give and take and promises” it’s about integrity and being a polite, caring human being. I have no regrets about making a call to a property owner, because I made no promises yet I received permission to put my signs in a place where my name can be seen. Sometimes being courteous is all that is required.
    Wendy Moraghan – Ward 5 Candidate

  • bonnie

    Mr Parr, thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the voters. I as a resident, would like to see an election run on an equal playing field without the interference of developers who have little regard for the concerns of the citizens.

    I also ask the question, where is the city clerk in all of this?

  • steven craig gardner

    What about candidates who don’t seem to know what the boundaries of Burlington and Oakville are. Apparently Oakville by-law folks are dealing with a number of Mary Alice St. James signs on the Oakville side of Burloak and along Wyecroft by the Oakville located mall east of Burloak by QEW. No they are not on peoples lawns they are on undeveloped land.

    • Carie DeMunck

      Thanks Mr. Gardner. We all know which candidate you support. Let’s discusd Mr. Sharmans signs on all the commercial property, including the all undeveloped land in Ward 5 that is owned by the Paletta family. I also have inside information that the incumbent was the accountant for the previous owner of Dairy Queen. After ownership changed hands in January, the previous owner is now working there as an EMPLOYEE! How do I know this? My daughter worked at DQ for three years! Guess who issued her T4s? Guess who’s signs are in the gardens at DQ? How many more businesses are connected to the incumbent in the same way?
      Talking about boundaries, why would some Ward 5 candidates have their signs on the Ward 4 side of Appleby Line? Talk about confusion. We all know that commercial property is owned by SOMEBODY, not a faceless corporation.

      While we are at it, let’s discuss the candidates who place signs on lawns first and ask permissions later? MaryAlice and her team ALWAYS ask direct permission to the owner before placing a sign. We don’t place first and ask questions later. The rumour is, many constituents have been complaining that they came home or woke up to unwanted signs on their lawns.
      People, if you did not issue permission for a sign , you can take it down, or call the Elections Clerk , Ms. Manton, not Ms. Morgan.
      Once again, being a candidate in a municipal election is quite challenging when running against an incumbent. It’s all about name recognition. I applaud Wendy Moraghan for having the guts to make the call to place her signs on the corner of Appleby and Fairview.
      This City and the old boys club that’s been running it certainly are afraid of losing their status.
      The challenges facing new candidates in an unequal playing field are enormous.

      Truth and Justice will not be damned.
      Carie DeMunck
      with the MaryAlice St. James team.

    • Carie

      MaryAlice’s team is always respectful of the rules. While she was hospitalized with a suspected septic knee this week is when the sign team was erecting signs, so it is possible a mistake was made. As always, the rules regarding the sign bylaws can be confusing, especially for new candidates. We also have observed some candidates’ signs in questionable areas, and also have heard rumours of signs being placed first, and asking questions later.
      MaryAlice has no signs placed with any ties to commercial or development properties.
      Individual homeowners are always respectfully asked prior to placement of a sign.
      With reference to Ms. Moraghan’s comment, again the election rules make it so that candidates are at a disadvantage when it comes to name recognition. If a mistake is made, we always rectify it. We are honest and forthright.
      Carie DeMunck
      with the MaryAlice St. James team.

      • Louise F.

        So the Elect St. James signs on the Dairy Queen and Thai Express/Villa Madina properties on Appleby Line, you think those aren’t commercial properties? One more question, do you want to be the pot or the kettle?

  • Andrew Drummond

    There are some interesting signs up on commercial properties in the Ward 5 race as well.

    Wendy Moraghan has her signs side-by-side with Mike Wallace in the Appleby/Fairview plaza with Wallace’s campaign HQ.

    On the other side of the street, Paul Sharman has signs up outside the restaurants there. Not sure that it is related to the restaurant but more likely the property owner.

  • LoverofLiberty

    Wow, this gent read my mind. I was about to call the City to clarify the rules. I say no election signs on commercial property.