Alberta elections trigger 'Code Red' at print shop two provinces away
'There are peaks and valleys to every business throughout the year and this is a peak — this is an Everest'
A sign-printing business in Manitoba has more than doubled its hours to keep up with demand from municipal election candidates in Alberta.
"I refer to it as 'Code Red,' " said Ken Cade, a salesman at Canada Lawn Signs in Winnipeg. "We're about as busy as we can get."
The business specializes in campaign signs for elections across Canada.
Staff are working nights and weekends to crank out thousands of signs and banners, destined for Alberta lawns and roadsides.
"It's a good opportunity for job security," Cade said. "There are peaks and valleys to every business throughout the year, and this is a peak — this is an Everest."
Alberta candidates placed orders as early as August, buying about 100 signs each. In Edmonton and Calgary, some clients bought up to 800.
"Other people, if they were in a riding they thought might be uncontested, they were waiting to the last second," Cade said. "There's been a lot of rushed orders."
Prices per sign range from $1.25 to $115, depending on size, colour, quantity and printing method.
A record number of candidates this year bolstered business, Cade said. He estimated the shop has printed nearly twice as many signs in 2017 as it did during Alberta's last municipal election.
"This is by far the busiest week so far in the 2017 campaign season," according to a statement on the shop's website.
The Manitoba-based business has shipped nearly 300 orders to Alberta in the past month, with last-minute calls still trickling in.
Campaign sign guidelines
In Edmonton, 132 people registered to run for council or school board seats — more than ever before.
Candidates were allowed to start putting up campaign signs on Sept. 4, after completing a mandatory online form.
The city also issued guidelines that explain where and how signs can be posted.
Signs that comply with the guidelines may be placed on city property. Candidates must ask for permission before posting on private property.
City peace officers enforce traffic bylaws that dictate where signs can be posted along roads. Breaking them can result in a $250 fine.
"It's one of our many duties, but it does keep us busy," said Sgt. Kevin Tomalty, acting co-ordinator of Edmonton's community standards peace officer section.
"It's to reduce overall clutter and distractions for motorists and pedestrians."
Officers respond mostly to complaints but also patrol popular streets, Tomalty said.
"Most of the candidates have been very, very compliant," he said, adding that no 2017 candidates have yet been fined.
Community peace officers have taken down about 100 signs throughout Edmonton, Tomalty said. Candidates can reclaim their campaign material within 30 days from "a secure compound" by contacting the city, he said.
Municipal elections will be held Oct. 16. The city encourages candidates to take down and recycle their signs after election day.