Council up in arms about tagging

Voted to send a letter to Crown counsel indicating that the issue of graffiti and tagging is a high priority

City council is cracking down on tagging and making it a priority to rid the community of graffiti.

Council, at its Feb. 23 meeting, voted to send a letter to Crown counsel indicating that the issue of graffiti and tagging is a high priority of council’s. Attached to the letter will be a city staff report detailing the negative effect of tagging on the community. The motion was put forward by Coun. Ron Kerr who has taken part in graffiti clean-ups, particularly around Campbellton, over the last year.

“We’ve seen a high level of tagging recently in our community and this is a criminal behaviour and vandalism that has a cost to the community both financially and emotionally,” Kerr said. “Prosecution is a deterrent, so this initiative would support the police files as they come before the judge.”

Kerr’s timing with his motion was impeccable as earlier on in the evening Crime Stoppers co-ordinator Pat Patterson told council that it needs to lead the way in graffiti prevention.

“Someone needs to take control of removing the problems with graffiti by identifying the taggers but also by quick removal. The idea and application of removing graffiti as soon as it appears, in my view, has got to be city-led,” Patterson said during a presentation to council. “You cannot drive down any street right now without seeing tagging and graffiti in the community.”

To help rectify the problem, council approved spending $55,000 in 2015 on a graffiti clean-up program targeting roadway infrastructure such as light poles, road signs, and benches.

City Clerk Peter Wipper said the program will put the city in compliance with its own public nuisance bylaw, which council updated last year with a policy that requires property owners – including the city – to remove any graffiti within five business days of when it appears.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s operations manager, said part of the funding will also go towards a proactive approach of painting some city property with a graffiti-resistant coating.

Kerr said it’s a program that the city needs to embrace if it wants to be successful in reducing the amount of tags around the community.

“I think Campbell River needs to lead the way on this issue because an awful lot of the graffiti out there is on public property and we’re expecting land owners and property owners to bear the brunt of the clean-up and we’re not doing it ourselves,” Kerr said. “I certainly think it is a priority and I think we do need to lead the way.”

Coun. Colleen Evans agreed.

“This is an important issue for our community,” Evans said. “I certainly believe we need to address our graffiti issue.”