Surrey Councillor Linda Annis says “Keep the RCMP in Surrey” lawn signs are being “confiscated by city work crews.”
Now she wants Mayor Doug McCallum to explain why.
“The free speech of a growing grassroots movement in support of keeping the RCMP in Surrey is being stifled and I want the mayor to tell us why he’s paying city staff to confiscate the signs,” said Annis.
Rob Costanzo, general manager of corporate services with the city, says signs were removed from public property and public right of ways because it violates the Highway Traffic Bylaw 13007, Section 82.
The bylaw states that for unauthorized signs, any sign put up in contravention of Section 82 “may be removed by the Engineer, Chief By-law Enforcement Officer, or such other persons as may be duly authorized from time to time by the Engineer or Chief By-law Enforcement Officer.”
It adds that the signs may be claimed at the city’s engineering works year “on payment of an impound fee based on the costs of storage and removal of the sign.” If the signs aren’t claimed within five “clear working days,” they will be destroyed.
The fee, according to the bylaw, is a “minimum of $100 and will not exceed $500, plus applicable taxes.”
Annis alleges the signs are being removed because they “infringe on city easements.”
“Thousands of signs have gone up in front of local homes, and having city crews take them down over a ridiculous easement issue smacks of petty politics,” said Annis.
“There’s a growing resentment in our city towards the mayor’s push for a local police department and like the 43,000 petition signatures, these signs speak volumes. Confiscating the signs is a complete waste of staff time and resources, and frankly it infringes on the free speech of Surrey homeowners and taxpayers.”
She said that a recent column by Peter German about the Surrey Police Department’s cost to taxpayers, “only serves to reinforce that this ‘pet project’ of the mayor and his remaining Safe Surrey councillors flies in the face of the policing referendum Surrey residents want and deserve.”
The Keep the RCMP in Surrey group has been providing lawn signs for residents for several months now.
In May of 2019, Surrey city council unanimously voted to ban election signs on public property and highways throughout the city, with some violating rules such as a ban on erecting signs within 25 metres of an intersection.
During the 2018 civic election, Surrey staff said 1,831 candidate signs were removed.
– With files from Amy Reid