Election sign for Liberal candidate Kelly Velonis tossed in a ditch. (Kelly Velonis campaign)

Election sign for Liberal candidate Kelly Velonis tossed in a ditch. (Kelly Velonis campaign)

Chilliwack-Hope candidates speak out about spike in election-sign vandalism

Destroying or removing election signs a federal offence under Elections Act

Some federal candidates in Chilliwack-Hope are speaking out about a spike in election-sign vandalism.

Liberal candidate Kelly Velonis said several of her signs were destroyed early on in the campaign.

“This is not my Chilliwack,” said Velonis, posting on her social media after four large signs came down last week.

“Removing and destroying any candidate’s sign is not OK.”

Anyone feeling strongly about a party or a candidate should go ahead and share their message, and vote for them, not vandalize their opponents’ signs, she added.

Four Velonis signs were damaged in Rosedale within 24 hours at Rosedale Park, Annis and Yale, Annis and Chilliwack Central, and Hack Brown Road.

“So unfortunate to see this happening again this election,” Velonis posted on Facebook.

It is a federal offence under the Elections Act to destroy or remove election signs, and it should be reported to police if anyone witnesses it, according to NDP candidate DJ Pohl’s campaign manager, Kelly Hutchinson.

Some of the signs cost $60 a piece.

As a veteran of many election campaigns, Hutchinson said she honestly can’t recall it being this bad.

“We are so sorry to all the campaigns experiencing this vandalism,” Pohl said. “We have seen similar vandalism on our own signs as well and we know how demoralizing it can be to volunteers who are only trying to participate in democracy.”

To those knocking over signs, she said: “Now’s the time for democracy, not violence.”

Some Elect Arthur Green signs were smashed and pulled, said Green party candidate Arthur Green.

“We had one large sign knocked down at the base of Promontory,” Green said.

A lot of small ones were also taken down or stolen.

“We only place small signs on supporters’ properties,” Green added, adding that the small signs lining boulevards are illegal, as they’re closer than 1.5-metre buffers to sidewalks.

Conservative incumbent candidate Mark Strahl said a number of his signs were knocked down and have since been repaired.

“It has not been a widespread issue to date,” Strahl reported.

People’s Party of Canada candidate Robert Bogunovic estimated his campaign is down about 300 signs, that were removed or broken this election cycle.

“Chilliwack has been really quite hard on the PPC signs this time around,” Bogunovic said, adding that his campaign volunteers got signs out early.

In the 2019 federal election the Bogunovic campaign lost 40 per cent of sign stock, he figures, while this election it’s about 50 per cent lost, with still a week and a half left to go in the campaign.

Even the sign outside his home had to be repaired seven times, he said.

So in general it’s not just one party or another being targeted but rather all candidates’ campaigns have been hit by vandals, Bogunovic said.

RELATED: School board candidate signs hit by racist vandals

RELATED: PPC signs hit in the Okanagan

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Canada Election 2021

 

Election sign for Conservative incumbent Mark Strahl knocked over near the Vedder roundabout on Sept. 5, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Election sign for Conservative incumbent Mark Strahl knocked over near the Vedder roundabout on Sept. 5, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)