Joey’s Notepad: Brampton Bans Political Lawn Signs on Private Property

Brampton’s City Council is planning banning all political lawn signs, reports Torstar Metroland.

The City is reportedly doing so to prevent ‘sign tampering, illegal placement, visual clutter, driver distraction, strain on city resources and public safety issues.’

The bylaw was passed in committee of the whole on November 23, and will go to an upcoming Council ratification meeting.

All bylaws passed by municipalities must comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In Shurman v. Vaughan (City) (2007), Ontario’s Superior Court quashed a portion of a municipal bylaw restricting the posting of election signs to a maximum of 21 days within a 30- day election period.

The Court ruled the municipality’s application of the bylaw to private property was unconstitutional.

Courts have upheld the ability of municipalities to ban signs on public property. Brampton is now seeking to ban them on private property.

Brampton is arguing they are not banning expressive activity because people are still free to display signs inside their windows.

Miller Thomas LLP, a law firm with a good slate of municipal law lawyers, published a paper “Freedom of Expression and Sign By-Laws in Canada- Where are we now?” in October 2002.

It includes analysis of Beaumier v. Brampton (City) (Ontario Court of Justice 1998, appeal dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal), a case involved municipal election signs on public property.

In a 1998 Municipal and Planning Law Reports article, Keep off the Grass: By-law Prohibits Federal Election Signs on Public Property — Case Comment: Beaumier v. Brampton (City), lawyer Brigida I. Colangelo noted in cases pre-dating the Charter of Rights, courts ” were concerned that the [municipal election sign] by-laws attempted to take away the common law right of subjects to place signs on private property.”

The Brampton bylaw is not yet in force.

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