Three Liberal signs are up at the corner of Prest and Chilliwack Central roads — one at the northeast corner

A byelection in everything but name

BC Liberals trip on city bylaw with election signs going up before byelection called in Chilliwack-Hope

BC Liberals have been putting up signs for election candidate Laurie Throness —- violating a city bylaw — even though the Premier has yet to call a byelection.

A city official confirmed bylaw enforcement is investigating complaints about several BC Liberal signs going up without a permit, and before the 28-day byelection campaign officially starts, but could not say how many signs in total might be involved.

BC Liberal candidate Laurie Throness, reached on the hustings Thursday, said his election team believed the signs were legal as long as they were on private property.

“That was our understanding,” he said. “If that understanding was incorrect, we’ll move to correct it.”

A city official said the city could not issue a permit for the signs — because no byelection has been called — and thus the BC Liberal signs fall into the category of “third party” commercial signs, which also require a permit.

Election candidates are also required to make a $500 deposit with the city to ensure signs are removed after the election.

BC Conservative candidate John Martin said his campaign team “looked real carefully at the (sign) bylaw in Chilliwack and in Hope and it was pretty clear you don’t put them up until the writ is dropped.”

“It’s a little bit disturbing that these people want to be government in Victoria, but can’t follow a simple bylaw in the jurisdiction they want to elect a new MLA in,” he said.

Al Ens, veteran NDP campaign organizer in Chilliwack, said the Liberal’s sign gaffe “tells me they’re playing games” about calling the byelection.

“Christy Clark has had every opportunity for some time now to call this byelection,” he said. “I think she should call the darn thing, and then people can get on with it.”

“We’ve all been campaigning anyway,” he added, pointing out that NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony had “run into” Throness this week as both were door-knocking in Agassiz.

NDP sign chairperson Dick Harrington said a large sign to “identify” the party’s election campaign office on Young Road was cleared by the city because it is not a permanent fixture.

“We have 150 4X4 signs ready to go … and the minute the byelection is called we’ll put ours up, but not before then,” he said.

Throness said his party’s eagerness to get election signs up is not an indication of an imminent byelection call by the Premier.

“I don’t know when it’s going to happen,” he said. “I know it’s soon.”

But the teachers’ strike is partly to blame for the delay, he said.

“The government has a lot on its plate right now with the teachers’ strike,” he said.

However, once that issue is settled, Throness said, he believes the byelection will be called — officially.

“I’m ready to go now,” he said.

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