The City of Cold Lake is cracking down on graffiti vandalism by increasing fines for perpetrators and establishing a new web-based tool to report graffiti and encourage its timely removal.
“We’ve seen a jump in the number of residents reporting graffiti, whether it’s on their business, home, vehicles, or on public property,” said Mayor Craig Copeland in a press release.
“Many of these complaints are coming from our downtown business community, but it’s not concentrated in just one area of the city. This is a problem that is affecting people in the north and south, both residential and commercial.”
Council voted to amend the Community Standards Bylaw to triple the fine for a first offence from $500 to $1500. A second offence within the same calendar year increases to $3000 and the third and subsequent offences carry a fine of $4500, plus administrative fees.
“Tagging a building or a piece of property is unfortunately the type of vandalism where just the presence of it, often invites more of the same,” said Copeland.
“This city prides itself on providing a safe, healthy and welcoming quality of life for both our residents and our visitors. Having graffiti scrawled on our buildings and property doesn’t represent what Cold Lake is about and it’s not something we are going to tolerate.”
In addition to the fine increase, city council voted to move forward with two other initiatives aimed at reducing instances of graffiti vandalism and ensuring it is removed quickly, after being reported.
The first is the development of an online reporting tool for residents and business owners to report graffiti vandalism to the city. This tool will function similarly to the “Report a Pothole” tool currently active on the city’s website, where a user can submit the precise location of graffiti on a map, upload photos or other attachments, and submit their comments and contact information.
The second is establishing an incentive program to encourage private property owners to aid in the cleanup of graffiti.
The specific details of the reporting tool and incentive program are still being finalized and will be communicated to residents when they become available. The fine increase for placing graffiti becomes effective immediately.
The city’s Community Standards Bylaw requires property owners to remove graffiti from their property within 14 days after being issued an Order to Comply.
If a property owner fails to remove the graffiti within the specified period, the city may remove the graffiti at the property owner’s expense. The complete Community Standards Bylaw is available on the city’s website.