Knowing the Signs…Election Times

When you think of an election what comes to mind? In my experience, an upcoming election means preparing for the barrage of campaign advertising, door-to-door canvassers, and social media posts from your relatives and friends that have questionable fact checking. A significant contributor to the visuals of an election are the seemingly inescapable candidate signs on tufts of grass by the local Starbucks or throughout your neighborhood. Condominiums share the unique complication of sharing a collective yard space that represents the building, tenants, and condo corporation, so management must be prepared to manage the political participation of their owners and residents while staying up to date with the current law.

The Municipal Elections Act 1996 mandates in section 88.2 that renters and owners must not be prevented from displaying election signs, but that reasonable conditions may be set by the condo corporation in relation to size or types of signs that can be displayed on the premises, and can even prohibit signage in the common areas unless the building is being used as a voting center.

The Region of Waterloo has by-laws to govern election signs accessible on their website, and has set out specific measurements of proximity to driveways, roads, fire hydrants, as well as reasonable size limits and removal requirements.

The Region of Waterloo has also created a fact sheet entitled “Important information about election signs” to illustrate and make the technical dimensions of the Act more accessible to voters. I have inserted a few clips of the most helpful information and you can read the whole information sheet at: https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regional-government/resources/Bylaws/Election-Signs-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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Source: Region of Waterloo.

These infographics are a useful tool to make sure your property and tenants are complying with regional by-laws while encouraging active local political engagement.

Several other municipalities have these types of by-laws and guides so check out your local municipality for more information.

Below you will find an updated summary of the differences for canvassers and signs in different election types.

Type of Election Canvassers Signs
Federal Condominium Act, 1998: Must permit reasonable access to the property.

Canada Elections Act: Must permit access between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. unless physical or emotional well-being of residents harmed.

Canada Elections Act: Must permit owners to post signs on units, but may impose reasonable conditions on size and type. May prohibit signs altogether on the common elements. Any prohibitions or conditions should be in the declaration or rule.
Provincial Condominium Act, 1998: Must permit reasonable access to the property.

Canada Elections Act: Must permit access between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and only until 6:00 p.m. on weekends to the common areas of the building.

N/A
Municipal Condominium Act, 1998: Must permit reasonable access to the property.

Municipal Elections Act: Must permit access between 9:00 a.m. and 9: p.m.

Municipal Elections Act: Condo corporations and management must permit owners to display signs, may impose reasonable conditions on size and type.

Thanks to Sarah Marshall, Robson Carpenter LLP’s summer law student, for researching and drafting this post. Very informative!