Toronto election signs: What are the rules?

Election signs must confirm to an elaborate set of rules. CBC News has put together a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know.

Signs began cropping up around the city Thursday

This photo appears in a City of Toronto document as an example of illegal election signs. Signs are prohibited on the median of a roadway. Thursday is the first day candidates are allowed to erect signs in locations outside their campaign offices. (City of Toronto)

Starting Thursday, it won't just be autumn leaves scattered across city lawns.

Thursday is the first day candidates for mayor, council and school board trustee can place election signs in locations outside their respective campaign offices.

Election signs must confirm to an elaborate set of rules. What's listed below are some key points from the city's website, which has more detailed information including an FAQ and details about sign enforcement along with Chapter 693 of the municipal code which covers signs more comprehensively.

I want a Morgan Baskin sign that's as big as my house. Can I do that? No, the maximum size is 1.2 square metres in area, except at campaign offices. Signs are also not allowed to be placed more than two metres off the ground, measured from the ground to the top of the sign. Again, this doesn't apply to signs at campaign offices and this doesn't include billboard signs.

What if I want a neon Ari Goldkind sign that hangs from a tree and dangles over my street? You'd be out of luck. Signs are not allowed in trees, they can't be illuminated and they aren't allowed to interfere with vehicle or pedestrian traffic in any way.

I've noticed plenty of people stopped in their vehicles for long periods of time during rush hour on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway. Can a candidate put a sign on the highway to capture this captive audience? No. A city fact sheet says elections signs along these highways are not allowed.

What about signs on public streets, boulevards, or utility poles? You must first pay a $250 deposit to the city and the sign must comply with all the other rules about size and location. If your sign is found in violation, the city may take it away and charge you a $25 fee per sign, payable from that deposit mentioned above. If you didn't pay a deposit, the city may fine you an amount equal to the cost of removing it. The city could also charge you for removing the sign.

What are the rules around roads and intersections?

Signs are not allowed in the following areas:

  • 1.5 metres from the edge of a curb on a road that doesn't have a sidewalk.
  • Between the curb and sidewalk.
  • Within 15 metres of an intersection.
  • In the median of a roadway.

Wow, these rules are pretty detailed. Where can I get a diagram that shows examples of illegally placed signs? The city website has more comprehensive information about this, with diagrams and photos of illegally placed signs here.

Anywhere else candidates are not allowed to put signs? Yes, in city parks and next to voting locations. The list of voting locations is listed by ward right here.

I'm going to put an Olivia Chow sign on my neigbhour's lawn because although I didn't ask him, I'm pretty sure he'd support her. That's cool, right? No, signs placed on private property must be put there by permission of the landowner. Same deal if it's a fence, the property owner must consent.

My Doug Ford sign has wooden legs that are splintered and broken. But you can still read it so I can still use it, right? No city rules say signs that are broken and lying on the ground are prohibited because they pose a threat to kids and pedestrians.

OK, election's over. When do signs have to be removed? By 9 a.m. on Oct. 30. If they're still up for Halloween you can call the bylaw enforcement office to scare your neighbour into taking them down.

I see a sign that I think is against these rules, how do I complain? Call the city's customer service line at 311 or email You will need to provide the following information:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Candidate’s name on the sign you are complaining about.
  • Location of the sign, being as detailed as possible.
  • If known, the length of time the sign has been on display.

Any ideas about what to do with signs after the election is over? Consider these excellent ideas posted after the June provincial election.


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