City looks to resurrect ‘proactive’ graffiti-busting strategy
The city is looking at resurrecting a stalled graffiti-fighting plan and giving help to oft-targeted homeowners.
Council endorsed a motion from Coun. Sam Merulla last week calling for an updated report on what the city can do to “proactively” battle the scourge of prohibited paint.
The motion calls for a return to a 2014 experiment that sent a student worker across the city documenting graffiti hot spots. It also asks bylaw staff to report on the feasibility of helping homeowners facing the cost of cleaning up repeat scrawl.
“I hear it from people all the time who are repeatedly victimized,” said Merulla, acknowledging being forced to continually clean up paint-splashed buildings or fence walls causes “financial hardship.”
Merulla said he wasn’t necessarily asking staff to explore the idea of a subsidy program for homeowners, but suggested it might be possible for the municipality to help with “in-kind” services or cleaning materials.
The councillor said he felt the 2014 summer student experiment helped the city respond more quickly and effectively to illegally painted problem areas on municipal property.
He said the program was evidently pushed onto the back burner by competing priorities, but “I’m asking them very specifically to move it to the front burner.”
In 2014, the city spent about $300,000 clearing paint scrawl from its own property and fielded close to 300 complaints about private property. At that time, it was issuing more than 100 cleanup orders to property owners annually.
The proactive strategy in 2014 was based in part on an earlier “graffiti audit” conducted by a consultant that suggested the worst hot spots for illegal paint were found in wards 2 and 3. The study suggested 10 prolific painters were responsible for up to 30 per cent of all identifiable graffiti tags.