Resident threatened with charge under Elections Act for sign

A lawn sign that reads: "Who speaks for the people of Ward 3?"
John Smees, a resident on Main Street West, has taken in his sign while he consults a lawyer. In behind is a Heritage not Condos sign which was not questioned.

By Mike Williscraft
NewsNow

Nearly two weeks later, Grimsby residents are still in shock, if not disbelief at news of possible charges under the Elections Act that were threatened due to a lawn sign he put up in early January.

The sign, which has been taken down, read, “Who speaks for the people of Ward 3?”

“The bylaw officer called and came to my house a week ago Friday (Jan. 22). He said they got a complaint about the nature of my sign. He said it needed to be one metre from the property line,” said John Smees.

Smees was then told he needed to have a permit for the sign.

“I said, ‘I need a permit to express my opinion? What about the wood lot and hospital lawn signs?’ He said, I don’t know. I’m not sure’.”

Then things escalated more.

“He said me met with the town clerk and called back to tell me they are prepared to charge me under the Elections Act,” Smees said.

Calls to both federal and provincial elected officials offices confirmed there is no infraction under the Elections Act.

Clerk Sarah Kim said Tuesday she was told it was an election sign.

“I didn’t hear further afterwards,” said Kim.

Kim did note that all lawn signs come under town bylaws requiring permits, but it is rarely enforced.

“I don’t think we’ve ever enforced it,” said Kim, regarding lawn signs.

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