Editorial: Saanich opens tagging canvas

You might notice graffiti tags popping up and remaining in place in Saanich over the next fiscal year.

You might notice graffiti tags popping up and remaining in place in Saanich over the next fiscal year.

Under a mandate to cut back budgets by one per cent, the district’s public works department axed its roads division’s graffiti removal program, which is worth about $30,000.

This funding paid for staff to paint over or wipe clean tags from municipal benches, walls and overpasses. Now unless the graffiti is profane, it won’t be removed.

Saanich is a large, expensive municipality to run and such decisions are never easy, but allowing graffiti tags to go unchecked is one of the worst forms of inaction a local government can commit.

Squiggled tags and random attempts at art painted across telephone poles, fences, bridges and other public structures is the kind of vandalism that begets vandalism. The longer graffiti stays in an area, the more the graffiti bleeds out.

For many residents across the region, graffiti-tagged streets create perceptions that the block is seedy or dangerous, and the people don’t care about their neighbourhood. For local businesses, it drives away potential customers and gives areas bad reputations.

Colwood, a city with many budget woes of its own, decided to roll the dice and invested tax dollars in a bylaw officer dedicated to removing graffiti, tracking tags and gathering evidence, as well as organizing community cleanups. That city has sent a message that taggers will be tracked, fined or criminally charged.

Victoria has offered its citizens an anti-graffiti program that offers free cleanup kits, but largely depends on volunteers taking an interest in their community. Saanich is offering the same, and hopefully residents step up to the plate when tags linger.

But in the meantime, Saanich has placed itself in the position of a double-standard – homeowners are required to remove tags from their property, but the district isn’t.

It also runs the risk of eventually spending more tax dollars on cleanup, as taggers realize parts of the municipality are an open canvas.

Just Posted

VicPD seize knife, bear spray from youth

Youth issued large fine for weapons

Sentencing delayed for man who attacked VicPD dog

Uno later recovered from his injury and returned to work

Police ask for public’s help in locating Johnny Sam

Sam was last seen on April 17 in Esquimalt

Eco warriors to shut down Douglas Street on Earth Day

Environmentalists to call on banks to divert investments into green infrastructure

Fire damage to Esquimalt building leaves some tenants out for at least six months

Structural damage has barred half of the tenants from returning, while others might move back sooner

Victoria church bells toll in solidarity with Notre Dame Cathedral after devastating fire

Churches around the globe ring bells to honour iconic Paris cathedral

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Inquest into Port Hardy police shooting moved to Campbell River

Family disappointed James Hayward coroner’s inquest rescheduled hours away

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Most Read