The City of Duncan wants to try a different and proactive way to deal with its graffiti problems.
City council decided at its meeting on March 1 that it would allocate $2,000 from its 2021 budget for a pilot project that will be implemented this spring which will target graffiti in Duncan.
Instead of issuing fines to property owners for not cleaning up graffiti, which currently is the only tool city staff have to deal with the issue, the city’s bylaw department will provide property owners with a voucher to purchase paint and a brush to cover up the graffiti under the new graffiti removal pilot program.
In a report, Duncan’s manager of building and bylaw Rachel Hastings said the pilot program is based on one that the City of Port Alberni successfully implemented in 2019.
She said that, to date, 27 Port Alberni residents and businesses have participated in the program with a no recurrence of graffiti at the locations where it was removed.
Hastings said the concept is to cover up the graffiti as quickly as possible and stay on top of it because statistics show that having graffiti repeated if these measures are taken is close to zero if it is covered within 24 to 48 hours of appearance.
“The faster graffiti is removed, the less desirable a property becomes as a target to vandals,” she said.
Hastings said that under the new program, the graffiti is reported and documented by the city’s bylaw department and the property owner is notified.
She said the bylaw department will then request the property owner voluntary comply and participate in the pilot program.
If the property owner agrees to participate, a voucher that permits one free can of paint and a free paint brush, up to a maximum amount that will be negotiated with local paint businesses, will be provided.
The city will also provide a set of instructions on how to use the voucher with a deadline for completing the work, and an information sheet on how to reduce the likelihood of repeat vandalism to the subject property
“The bylaw department will conduct an onsite inspection after seven days to verify the work has been completed,” Hastings said.
“Additionally, if the offending party is known, there could be a link through the Restorative Justice program as an alternative to pressing charges. Depending on the program uptake, there is a possibility a supplementary 2021 budget request may be brought to council for additional funds.”