Those tagging Cold Lake businesses or properties will be facing increased fines.
Cold Lake city council decided to triple the fine for graffiti offenders to $1500 at the Feb. 16 corporate priorities meeting after city administration reported more instances of graffiti, and want to further deter it.
City staff will also work on incentives or rewards for graffiti cleanup and an app or phone line to more easily report graffiti in Cold Lake.
“We’re really concerned about the business community that’s getting hit by the graffiti,” said Mayor Craig Copeland on The Morning After. “They got to pay out a lot of money out of their pockets to fix it, so we were looking at that option.”
“Administration brought some ideas forward that they got from other communities. And so one of them, of course, is maybe providing some kind of incentive for people to phone in somebody that is doing the graffiti.”
Some city councillors were concerned about the idea of increasing the fines for property owners who do not get rid of the graffiti.
Administration proposed increasing that penalty from $200 to $500, but council decided not to go that route.
“If you’re going to go out and enforce and you’re going to enforce on a business on main street and order them to remove it, then the city better make sure it has all its graffiti removed from its boxes around the city too,” said councillor Bob Buckle during the Feb. 16 meeting.
“I’m not against incentivizing businesses and property owners to remove graffiti, I just think that the increase in fine is significant. No property owner wants to see their property damaged or vandalized. So it’s already a kick in the pants, I don’t think we need to more than double the fines for that same property owner.”
Councillor Chris Vining said the best deterrent is to remove the marks as quickly as possible to frustrate the offenders.
“It’s a difficult one because if you try to enforce your way out of it, it’s kind of chasing your tail. I would really like us to see about setting up some kind of a program–the number one deterrent against graffiti is to get rid of it, and to remove it as quickly as possible,” he said.
History shows it’s been difficult to catch these graffiti offenders. Since the inception of this Community Standards Bylaw in November 2014, the city has laid one charge on an individual for graffiti vandalism.
City staff will work on programming options to help business owners remove the graffiti, identify where the graffiti is more commonly happening, and an incentive program for reporting these offences. Then the file will come back to city council for further discussion.
The old fine for offenders caught doing graffiti vandalism was $500.