Election signs and campaign information

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Reporting election sign concerns or complaints

By-law and Regulatory Services is responsible for the enforcement of the City’s Signs on City Roads and Temporary Signs on Private Property by-laws.

Any concerns or complaints regarding election signs should be directed to 3-1-1.

Amendments to election sign regulations

On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, City Council enacted amending by-laws to the City’s Signs on City Roads and Temporary Signs on Private Property by-laws. The amending by-laws came into effect on Saturday, January 1, 2022, and apply to all municipal, provincial, and federal elections and by-elections occurring after this date.

On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, City Council considered the report titled “Election Signs By-laws Review” and approved the following amendments to the City’s signs by-laws:

  1. Using the same definition for “election sign” in both by-laws;
  2. Formalizing that, in accordance with legislation, the external legal opinion and Council motions, election signs are permitted at the drop of the Writ for federal and provincial elections;
  3. Aligning the timeframes that permit election signs to be placed on private and public property in municipal elections to 45 days prior to Voting Day in a municipal election;
  4. Extending the timeframe to remove signs to 72 hours after Voting Day in any election; and
  5. Removing the requirements of Section 6.(2) of the Temporary Signs on Private Property By-law for election signs and aligning the placement requirements for election signs in both by-laws.

Candidate election campaign advertisements

An election campaign advertisement is an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic, or other medium that has the purpose of promoting or supporting the election of a candidate. All election campaign advertisements purchased by or under the direction of a candidate must clearly identify the candidate.

Candidates may only advertise once they have filed their nomination with the City Clerk.

Mandatory information for broadcasters and publishers

Candidates must provide the following information to the broadcaster or publisher in writing:

  1. The name of the candidate.
  2. The name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the candidate.

Broadcasters and publishers are prohibited from running an election campaign advertisement unless the above-noted information is provided.

The broadcaster or publisher of an election campaign advertisement is required to retain the following information for a period of four years after the date the advertisement appears:

  • The mandatory information that is required for broadcasters and publishers (the name of the candidate and the contact information for the person who deals with the broadcaster or publisher);
  • A copy of the advertisement, or the means of reproducing it for inspection; and
  • A statement of the charge made for its appearance.

The broadcaster or publisher must also permit the public to inspect these records during normal business hours.

In addition, broadcasters and service providers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Guidelines for TV and radio broadcasters and TV service providers during an election, as set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Broadcasters, service providers, and on-air personalities should also be aware of the Guideline’s recommendation that any on-air personalities who become candidates “should be removed from their on-air duties during the election period or on the date their candidacies are announced, whichever is later”. “Election period” is defined in the Radio Regulations, 1986 and the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, and in the case of a municipal election, it is defined as “the period beginning two months before the date of the election and ending on the date the election is held”. For the 2022 Municipal Elections, the election period begins on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 and ends on Monday, October 24, 2022.

Third party advertisements

A third party advertisement is an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing a candidate, or a “yes” or “no” question on the ballot. This does not include advertisements by or under the direction of a candidate.

All individuals, corporations and trade unions must register before incurring any expense related to third party advertisements appearing between Monday, May 2, 2022, and Monday, October 24, 2022.

All third party advertisements must contain the following information:

  1. The name of the third party advertiser.
  2. The municipality where the third party advertiser is registered.
  3. A telephone number, mailing address or email address at which the third party advertiser may be contacted regarding the advertisement.

Mandatory information for broadcasters and publishers

Third party advertisers must provide the following information to the broadcaster or publisher in writing:

  1. The name of the third party advertiser.
  2. The name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the third party advertiser.
  3. The municipality where the third party advertiser is registered.

Broadcasters and publishers are prohibited from running a third party advertisement unless the above-noted information is provided.

The broadcaster or publisher of a third party advertisement is required to retain the following information for a period of four years after the date the advertisement appears:

  • The mandatory information that is required for broadcasters and publishers (the name of the registered third party; the municipality where they are registered; and the contact information for the person who deals with the broadcaster or publisher);
  • A copy of the advertisement, or the means of reproducing it for inspection; and
  • A statement of the charge made for its appearance.

The broadcaster or publisher must also permit the public to inspect these records during normal business hours.

Campaign and sign rules for candidates and third party advertisers

Election signs on private property

Temporary Signs on Private Property By-law - City of Ottawa By-law No. 2004-239, as amended, Section 21 states:

  1. No person or entity shall place or cause to be placed or allow to remain placed an election sign more than forty-five (45) days immediately preceding the election date in a municipal election, or, in the case of a federal election or provincial election, the sign may be placed upon issuance of the relevant Writ.
  2. Every election sign together with its appurtenances shall be removed from the premise within seventy-two (72) hours following the election date.
  3. No person shall place an election sign on private property that,
    1. is within three metres (3m) of an intersection,
    2. is within fifty centimetres (50cm) of a sidewalk, or where there is no sidewalk, within two metres (2m) of the roadway or within fifty centimetres (50cm) of the edge of a shoulder where such exists,
  4. Sign dimension requirements contained in this by-law shall not apply to an election sign.

Election signs on public property

Signs on City Roads By-law - City of Ottawa By-law No. 2003-520, as amended, Section 10 states:

  1. Despite Sections 4 and 5 hereof, election signs may be placed on an inner boulevard, provided that,
    1. the sign is not placed more than forty-five (45) days immediately preceding the election date in a municipal election or, in the case of a federal election or provincial election, the sign may be placed upon issuance of the relevant Writ;
    2. no sign is placed within fifty centimetres (50) cm of a sidewalk, or where there is no sidewalk, within two metres (2m) of the roadway or within fifty centimetres (50cm) of the edge of a shoulder where such exists; and
    3. the sign and its appurtenances are removed within seventy-two (72) hours following an election date.
  2. Dimension requirements contained in this by-law shall not apply to an election sign.

Note: It is forbidden to use election signs that constitute a safety hazard or utilize any sign type identified as a prohibited sign in any of the above-listed by-laws.

Election signs on provincial highways

Please contact the Ministry of Transportation for regulations governing election signs on provincial highways.

Election signs on National Capital Commission lands

Please contact the National Capital Commission for regulations governing election signs on its lands.

Election signs and campaigning on transit property

Please refer to the City’s Transit By-Law, for regulations for election signs and campaigning on transit property. OC Transpo is a federally regulated operation due to its interprovincial routes.

Campaign material around a voting place

When a voting place is located within public premises, the entire property of the voting place and all the boundaries associated with it are considered part of that voting place.

Where a voting place is located in a multi-residential building (e.g. apartment, condominium, university residence, retirement residence, long-term care facility, etc.) the boundaries do not include any residences on the property.

On both public and private premises, "premises" includes the parking lot, adjoining fences, and adjacent road allowances. The City of Ottawa utilizes only a specific area for a voting place and has no jurisdiction over adjacent properties, such as political signs posted on street corners or passing cars advertising a candidate.

Campaigning at a voting place

The Municipal Elections Act, 1996, stipulates that no person shall attempt to influence, directly or indirectly, how the elector votes and no person shall display a candidate’s election campaign material or literature in a voting place.

Clothing or accessories that identify a candidate, such as, signs, buttons, slogans, logos, advertising, etc., are not permitted inside a voting place.

Voting screens are checked regularly for markings and campaign literature.

The Supervisor Deputy Returning Officer is the final arbiter and may take whatever action is deemed necessary to maintain compliance in the voting place.

Access to multi-residential premises by candidates and their representatives as well as the display of campaign signs

Candidates and their representatives are allowed access to apartments, condominiums, non-profit housing cooperatives and gated communities for the purpose of canvassing and distributing election material.

The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 outlines the following rules around campaigning in these locations:

  • Candidates and their representatives are permitted access between the hours of 9 am to 9 pm;
  • No landlord of residential premises can prevent a tenant from displaying campaign signs on their rented premises;
  • No condominium corporation can prevent an owner or tenant from displaying campaign signs on their unit; and
  • The landlord, person, condominium corporation or agent may set reasonable conditions on the size or type of sign that can be displayed. They can restrict signs from being displayed in common areas.

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, Condominium Act, 1998 and the Co-operative Corporations Act, 1996 also provide candidates and their representatives access to the building for the purpose of canvassing.

The letter Access to Multi-Residential Premises by Candidates and Their Representatives as well as the Display of Campaign Signs provides the above mentioned legislative sections. Candidates and their representatives may use this letter when they are canvassing and distributing election material.

Campaign guidance for candidates, third party advertisers and voters during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has prepared the 2022 Municipal Elections: COVID-19 Campaign Guidance for Candidates, Third Party Advertisers and Voters document which provides public health recommendations for candidates, third party advertisers, and voters participating in election-related activities.

While the City Clerk is not responsible for administering, providing guidance, or overseeing campaign activities, the City Clerk requested that OPH provide this guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the pandemic is continuously evolving, OPH expects that this information may need to be updated regularly. Candidates, third party advertisers, and voters are encouraged to consult the Elections website regularly.

Removal of elections signs

Candidates must remove election signs on both public and private property within 72 hours following Voting Day (Monday, October 24, 2022).

For the 2022 Municipal Elections, election signs must be removed by end of day, 11:59 pm, on Thursday, October 27, 2022.

Any concerns or complaints regarding election signs should be directed to 3-1-1.

Disposal of election signs

As part of the staff report titled “Election Signs By-laws Review” that was approved by City Council on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, staff heard concerns about the environmental impacts of elections signs. To address this, the Elections Office, in consultation with the Public Works Department, has put together the following information regarding the disposal of election signs including reusing, recycling and donating.

Disposal

Candidates and third party advertisers are responsible for the disposal of their election signs. Residents should contact the candidate or 3-1-1 for sign removal should an election sign remain on a resident’s property more than 72 hours following voting day in an election.  Election signs are not accepted in residential waste programs and must not be placed in a resident’s recycling or garbage bin. Signage that is left out with residential waste will not be picked up by collectors.

Reuse

Candidates and third party advertisers may choose to reuse their signs if they intend to run in a future election or by-election. Information on using leftover campaign inventory from a previous election can be found in the Province of Ontario’s 2022 Candidate’s Guide – Ontario municipal council and school board elections and 2022 Third Party Advertisers’ Guide.

Recycle

Candidates and third party advertisers are encouraged to consider environmental impacts when selecting materials for their election signs.

Signs made out of corrugated plastic (coroplast) are accepted for recycling at the City’s recycling processor, Cascade Recovery+.

In the weeks following an election, Cascade Recovery+ offers election sign recycling services for signs made of coroplast material to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Recycled signs may be turned into items such as auto parts, brooms, or ice makers.

Candidates and third party advertisers who wish to use this recycling service must coordinate with Cascade Recovery+ in advance of dropping off their signage by calling 613-742-1222.

Donate

Candidates and third party advertisers may also wish to consider donating old election signs to schools, community groups, or theatres for use in various art and design products. It is the responsibility of the candidate or third party advertiser to coordinate the donation to the group(s) of their choosing.