City councillors want to get a grip on graffiti.
Councillors, at a committee meeting this week, voted to have municipal staff look for ways to regulate and control graffiti through the existing public nuisance bylaw. They also voted to have staff prepare a communication strategy to ensure residents know who to call when graffiti is discovered.
The issue is expected to come up for approval at the Sept. 24 city council meeting.
“If you drive through the downtown or any area of the city, you can see that it’s really getting out of hand,” Coun. Rick Weaver said. “It’s on city bridges, mailboxes, property that doesn’t belong to the city and we need to have the ability to make sure these places are cleaned up.
He said the city needs to a communications strategy because, for any plan to be effective, graffiti must be removed as quickly as possible once it has been done discovered.
Weaver said he considers graffiti, which sometimes contains inappropriate and vulgar content, to be the tagging of property that doesn’t belong to the person committing the act.
Weaver received support from Coun. Jan Vanderstelt, who asked if there is a way to prioritize removal of graffiti to get rid of the most offensive first.
Noting that graffiti is not a new issue, Coun. Richard Carpenter said dealing with it comes down to enforcement.
“How are we going to enforce this?” Carpenter said. “If we don’t have enforcement, nothing gets done.”
Coun. Dan McCreary voiced his support for the plan.
But, in addition to amending the public nuisance bylaw to include graffiti, McCreary said he wants staff to determine if there is a fund available to help property owners pay for cleaning up graffiti and if there is a way of restricting sales of graffiti-making materials.
“I’d like staff to see if there is a victims compensation fund or some kind of fund that would help property owners and prevent them from being victimized twice.”
Meanwhile, restricting or prohibiting sales of materials used to create graffiti might help with prevention, McCreary said.
During the discussion references were made to a City of London measure that prohibits the sale of markers and spray paint to anyone under 18 years old.
Councillors eventually voted in favour of both amendments following a lengthy discussion.