Thursday, June 26, 2014

City of Ottawa agrees Working Families' signs were illegal, still won't say what they'll do about them

The City of Ottawa has confirmed that the Working Families signs placed throughout Ottawa just days prior to the June 2014 election were illegal, but won't say what action they intend to take.

On June 6, 2014, just six days before the Ontario election in which the Liberals were elected to a majority government, the Liberal-friendly Working Families Coalition put up thousands of illegal signs attacking the Progressive Conservative Party and Tim Hudak.

Thousands of these signs were spotted in swing ridings across Ontario.  In Ottawa, they appeared in Ottawa South and Ottawa West-Nepean.  The signs were strategically timed so that Ottawa bylaw enforcement officers would take a while to respond – it being a Friday.

Ottawa mayor and former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Watson wouldn’t get involved, and would only say concerned citizens should call the bylaw enforcement office. 

The following day, June 7, I registered my complaint online after the telephones were backed up with 30+ minute wait times.  The auto-response email promised a response in 4 business days, so by June 12 – coincidentally, the date of the election.

On June 9 the 311 call centre assigned the complaint to the Municipal Addressing and Signs department.  They pushed the complaint back to the 311, saying they only dealt with permanent signs on private property.

No response.

On June 11, the Municipal Addressing and Signs department forwarded the complaint directly to bylaw enforcement, since the 311 call centre still hadn’t forwarded it to the proper department.

June 13? No response.

June 16? No response.

June 17, the Municipal Addressing and Signs department once again forwarded the complaint to 311 and bylaw enforcement.  That same day the 311 call centre once again acknowledged the complaint, but said their response would take “a minimum of 5 business days.”

Finally, on June 23, the 311 call centre forwarded the complaint to the Bylaw Temporary Signage Enforcement and promised a response within 2 days.  They agreed the Working Families signs “were placed illegally,” but said a bylaw officer would have to answer any questions about “the fines associated with impound and removal.”

So it’s a small victory, but not the full answer Ottawans deserve.  Make your voice known too.  Contact Linda Anderson, the chief of bylaw enforcement, and demand that something be done.