Signage in Salmon Arm’s downtown advocating for a yes vote in the upcoming referendum related to the Ross Street underpass was found not to be in compliance with provincial legislation – but has been since been fixed.
The signs, two at the end of Ross Street in the Shuswap Park Mall parking lot, and additional signs strapped to fencing along Marine Park Drive near the railway crossing, have the words “Ross Street Underpass, Vote Yes For Safety,” referring to the upcoming municipal referendum and the question, “Are you in favour of council for the City of Salmon Arm adopting Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 4500, which would authorize the City of Salmon Arm to borrow $5,300,000 for the purpose of constructing the Ross Street Underpass and related works.”
The two larger signs at the end of Ross Street include an artistic rendering of the proposed underpass with the City of Salmon Arm logo.
As of Thursday morning, Oct. 4, none of the signs contained any information indicating who is responsible for them – information that is mandatory according to Elections BC.
“The rules for third-party advertising sponsors apply to what the legislation calls assent votes, but what is often referred to as referendum at the local level,” says a spokesperson for Elections BC. “So signs or third parties that are campaigning for or against a particular outcome in a local referendum, the third party rules would apply to them. So they would have to register with Elections BC, they would have to include an authorization statement on their signs with contact information and there’s other requirements as well.”
Erin Jackson, the City of Salmon Arm’s chief election officer, said the signs were not put up by the city.
“I have been speaking with Elections BC to ensure that they meet the applicable legislation for campaign-related signage,” said Jackson, noting the signs do not contain the necessary sponsorship information. “It’s something that Elections BC is looking into and they’re presently sorting it out.”
Elections BC states in any case of non-compliance with the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, “our first step in a case like that is always education, so trying to determine who is conducting the advertising and reaching out to them about what the rules are and about how they can come into compliance with the rules.”
Subsequent to the Observer’s calls to Elections BC and the city, the signs are now adorned with a sticker, approximately 4 by 10 centimetres, that say, “Authorized by Craig Newnes, Registered sponsor under LECFA, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Newnes is the creator of “Let’s Build The Ross Street Underpass,” a Facebook page providing answers to questions about the underpass and a forum for people to discuss the project.