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Mississauga's "severely restrictive" election sign law makes it tough to challenge incumbents, says a candidate for city council.

Toronto Star & Mississauga News (Signs laws favour incumbent: candidate) - Oct. 16, 2006 - Mike Funston

Mississauga sign law called 'restrictive'

Candidate says it helps incumbents

Forbids election posters near roads

Mississauga's "severely restrictive" election sign law makes it tough to challenge incumbents, says a candidate for city council.

Peter Judd, who is running in Ward 11 against veteran councillor George Carlson and challenger Xavier Pasicolan, said the bylaw forbids placing signs on public property, including beside roadways.

That's tougher than neighbouring Toronto and Oakville, both of which allow election signs to go up along roads.

For a political unknown, not being able to place signs in high-traffic public places while incumbents have the benefit of name recognition makes it that much more difficult to build a public profile, Judd said.

He put up signs at key intersections throughout the city and had about 30 removed by city enforcement crews before realizing it was illegal, he said. After that, he took down another 30 himself.

Judd said what really bothers him is that several of his signs in front of homes were removed by city crews because they were on the public side of the property line.

That's going too far, he said, and he wonders why Mississauga has to be so strict compared to other municipalities.

"For a short period of time every four years, surely we can live with election signs (on public property)," Judd said.

John Oates, the manager in charge of enforcing election sign laws for Mississauga, said a sign placed in front of a home, between the curb and sidewalk, is removed because it's obviously on public property.

But if it's on a lot where there's no sidewalk, it won't be removed because the homeowner might not know exactly where the property line is.

Oates said that was explained to Judd.

Crews document the sign removals and the offending candidate is billed $50 per sign, Oates said. Offenders can also be charged under the Provincial Offences Act.

Oates noted that copies of the sign bylaw are included in information packages given to every candidate by the city.

As for why Mississauga has tougher restrictions on election signs, he said, "Council was getting frustrated at the proliferation of all kinds of signs on the road allowances. It was getting out of control. A messy streetscape isn't what they wanted to see."

It's a never-ending battle: Each week, he said, crews remove about 1,000 illegal signs of all kinds from public property.

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