Signs & Federal Elections
Unlike the Local Authorities Election Act, which has some flexibility in it, the Canada Elections Act is explicit that a condominium corporation cannot prohibit owners from displaying election signs in their units.
From the Elections Canada FAQ:
“Property owners do not have the right to prevent tenants from putting up election signs on the premises they lease in an apartment building during an election period. Condominium corporations do not have the right to prevent condo owners from putting up election signs on the units they own during an election period.
However, property owners and condominium corporations do have the right to set reasonable conditions on the size and type of sign, and to prohibit signs in common areas, whether indoors or outdoors (see section 322 of the Canada Elections Act).”
The Canada Elections Act applies only to federal campaigns. Federal election signs, like municipal and school board signs, are also subject to municipal bylaws and regulations.
Candidates and campaigns accessing property for campaign purposes
Candidates and campaign volunteers are likely to go door to door to deliver pamphlets and signs and to speak with voters. The Canada Elections Act is quite clear about the requirement to allow candidates and their representatives to canvas within condominiums between 9 AM and 9 PM.Section 81 of the Canada Elections Act states:
“1) No person who is in control of an apartment building, condominium building or other multiple-residence building or a gated community may prevent a candidate or his or her representative from
- (a) in the case of an apartment building, condominium building or gated community, canvassing, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., at the doors to the apartments, units or houses, as the case may be; or
- (b) in the case of a multiple-residence building, campaigning, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., in a common area in the multiple residence.”
Federal campaigns will be subject to whatever COVID-19 public health orders are in effect over the course of the election in the area they are campaigning in.
What Condominiums Can Do to Navigate the Election Double Header
- If your bylaws allow it, the easiest way to manage both elections is to adopt a common approach to them that aligns with both the Canada Elections Act and the Local Authorities Elections Act. This would mean
- Allowing signs to be displayed in units
- Common size and type restrictions on signs
- Allowing candidates and their representatives into the building for campaign purposes between 9 AM and 9 PM.
- Clearly post signage about what precautions visitors to your building are expected to take to respect residents and stay safe including information about whether masks are encouraged in common property. At the time of writing, Alberta’s mask mandates have been lifted, but Boards may need to keep an eye out for updates.
- Boards may want to work with their property managers to develop standard information that will be provided to campaigns requesting access to your building to save time on responding to these requests.
- Boards may want to share some reminders with residents about what the rules are for admitting visitors into the building and share any information you have about the rules to be followed by campaigns accessing your building.
- Regardless of which election is underway it is very important to be impartial and non-partisan when it comes to enforcement. Owners and tenants must respect the rules, but they are entitled to be treated equally when it comes to participating in the democratic process.
Elections can be a stressful time for condominium boards, owners, and property managers, but with a little bit of planning and a lot of communication, hopefully this year’s elections will be smooth sailing.