Waste companies will have 12 days to remove graffiti from dumpsters in Campbell River

City council has narrowly defeated a proposal to extend the deadline for waste companies to remove graffiti from their dumpsters.

At its Tuesday meeting, council, in a 4-3 vote, rejected giving waste disposal companies 15 days instead of 12 to clean up graffiti on garbage bins typically located behind local businesses.

Steve Hocking, operations for Progressive Waste Solutions, suggested council extend the 12-day time frame proposed by city staff to three weeks, saying that graffiti removal is “a time-consuming process based on excess labour and increased expense.”

But Coun. Ron Kerr noted the city only gives businesses seven days to remove any graffiti that appears on their buildings and said he didn’t know why council was giving special treatment to the waste companies.

“Why would we be giving this extended period?” Kerr questioned. “I would think most pick up cycles would be sufficient time for them to do touch ups on any tagging, it’s a very simple clean up. I don’t think it would be a hardship.”

The majority of council agreed with Kerr and voted down the extension.

Council did, however, approve third reading of the 12-day deadline. Under the new rules, if companies do not remove graffiti within that timeframe, the city may impose a $250 fine on the company that owns the dumpster.

The crackdown is to try and curtail the amount of graffiti popping up around the community.

“There is an onus on the owner or business to do a timely removal as it has proven to be the most successful deterrent to tagging,” Mayor Andy Adams said.

Kerr said over the past weekend, he did his own investigating and drove around the entire city counting dumpsters to see how bad the problem really is.

“I counted 162 of them and then I broke them down to whether they were clean, whether they had tags, whether they were rusty, ugly,” Kerr said. “Forty-four of them, 28 per cent had tagging. It didn’t seem to make a difference whether they were in a back alley or if they were visible from the road. So we’re talking about a considerable amount of containers out there that have been tagged.”

Kerr said in most cases, the dumpsters were victims of single tagging, though there were some exceptions.

He added that though the receptacles seem to be a target for taggers, overall graffiti across the community seems to be on the down swing.

“As opposed to three or four years ago, I think just the state of the whole town, in terms of tagging, is much improved,” Kerr said. “It seems our bylaws have really cleaned things up.”

Adams agreed that the RCMP and the city’s bylaw enforcement officers are doing an “excellent job” at identifying the taggers and tracking them down.

Council as a whole has also made considerable efforts in the past year to curb the spread of graffiti. Council spent $55,000 last year on a graffiti clean-up program targeting roadway infrastructure such as light poles, road signs and benches.

The city also updated its public nuisance bylaw in 2014 with a requirement that property owners remove graffiti within five business days of its appearance.