COLUMN: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

The practice of saturating city streets with election signs is outdated, wasteful – and even potentially dangerous to motorists

This election might be the death of me.

I don’t mean from a professional point of view – while covering elections as a reporter can sometimes be a grueling chore, it hasn’t necessarily been my area of focus, as there are others here at the Peace Arch News far better equipped for such beats.

But I mean it might literally kill me.

My morning commute is a relative short one, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, to our office here in South Surrey. Much of my travel is done through rural neighbourhoods, too, but even the sparsely populated communities of the Lower Mainland haven’t been immune to election signs.

Like, a lot of them.

There’s one particular intersection on my route where I need to make a right-hand turn. Often this is done on a red light. So every morning I – and my fellow right-hand turning motorists – roll up to the intersection, come to a brief stop, and look to our left for oncoming traffic.

When it’s clear, you go. Simple, right?

In theory, sure, but the task is made ever more difficult – not to mention dangerous – when a massive 10-foot-wide sign is blocking the view of oncoming traffic.

Look, politician (who shall remain nameless), I enjoy your smiling mug greeting me every morning as much as the next person, but I’d much rather get to work in one piece.

The intersection in question is far from the only spot I’ve seen curiously placed signs during election season, of course. There are plenty of examples.

And I realize, too, that safe placement of signs is probably low on campaign volunteers’ priority list when there are thousands upon thousands to plant into the ground before Nov. 15. But there must be a better system out there somewhere.

I have never understood sign saturation as an election strategy. Does anyone believe it works?

Has anyone actually been swayed to vote a certain way simply because of a sign (or 200) they happened to see on their drive to the polling station?

I have my doubts.

I’m not necessarily suggesting we do away with them completely. Want to plant a sign every few blocks, or in high-traffic areas? Go for it.

Are you a business-owner or private resident who wants to show support for a particular candidate, with a sign on your own property? I’m fine with that, too.

But post 1,000 small signs – each a mere six inches from one another – along a median on the same stretch of road, and that’s where I draw the line. If I saw the first sign, assume that I didn’t pay attention to the 999 identical ones that followed.

I know excessive signage has been a campaign practice for decades – maybe longer – but just because that’s the way things have always been done, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change now.

Adapt or die, as they say.

You know what candidate would win my vote? The one who comes out and says creating a million or so election signs is an unnecessary expense, is largely ineffective – not to mention wasteful – and that he or she doesn’t believe in bombarding the community with them, and instead will focus on alternative ways to have their name and message recognized.

And it’s not as though there are a lack of alternatives. Here are some free ideas, just off the top of my head (you’re welcome):

Start an online campaign through social media. Advertise in a well-read newspaper. Produce a slick-looking website. Knock on doors and meet with as many people as you can. Stand outside the mall and hand out campaign fliers. Have intelligent and thoughtful answers to questions posed during all-candidates meetings.

Any of those strategies would be more effective.

Because if the only time I see your name is when it’s printed on a sign that’s coming through my windshield after a car crash, I’m probably going to vote for somebody else.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard 
to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: Opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s plan for 84 Ave. south of Bear Creek Park

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

The Surrey Board of Trade has launched a new ‘Say Yes to the Vaccine’ campaign. (File photo)
Surrey Board of Trade launches campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccinations are the only solution to re-opening the econony, says board

South Surrey senior Marnie Allard is this year’s honoree in the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey senior honoured in 2021 Alzheimer’s walk

Marnie Allard is living with posterior cortical atrophy

The recently-formed Heron Hospice Society of Delta will offer compassionate end-of life programs for individuals and families experiencing grief and loss, and aims to support the recently reopened Irene Thomas Hospice, according to a release issued Tuesday, April 20. (Heron Hospice Society of Delta/Facebook photo)
New society to support hospice care in Delta

Heron Hospice Society of Delta “will embrace all end-of-life choices,” says president Chris Pettypiece

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cash seized in a 2018 RCMP drug bust in the Lower Mainland. (Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP-led drug investigation nets charges for 4 in Lower Mainland

Cops seized 12 kilograms of MDMA and $380K executing several search warrants in the Lower Mainland in 2018

Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Agassiz

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Most Read