Penticton city council is determined to clean up the city’s graffiti problem.
At their March 16 meeting council endorsed a new Graffiti Management Policy and formally agreed to enter into a partnership agreement with the Downtown Penticton Association for a pilot graffiti removal program for a one-year term.
“I like the fact the strategy is a partnership and that we are finally dealing with it,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, prior to a unanimous vote of support from council.
The biggest question raised about endorsing Penticton’s new graffiti-free pilot program was whether the fine for owners or tenants who don’t remove graffiti within seven days was high enough.
The new policy includes a $100 fine for business owners, but even the program planners said it wasn’t likely to need to be enforced too often, at least in the downtown area covered by the pilot program.
A major component of the program is the hiring of a contractor, Peer Pressure, who are specialists in graffiti removal. In addition to responding to reports of graffiti, said Tina Siebert, the city’s bylaw services supervisor, and a member of the city’s graffiti task force, Peerless will be conducting their own inspections and removing graffiti within the seven-day time frame.
“I think it is more about enforcement than it is about the dollar amount. I believe the pilot project, in its intention, will overcome the need to fine anybody. I hope the dollar amount will be irrelevant,” said Coun. Campbell Watt.
The task force has been researching solutions to Penticton’s graffiti problem for two years, and in that time managed to collect 1,700 images featuring more than 4,000 unique examples of graffiti and tags.
“Our community has waited a long time for positive action,” said Coun. Judy Sentes, speaking in support of the pilot program.
The task force presented their findings to council last month, asking for financial support of the pilot removal program. Council agreed, offering a 50 per cent investment of $28,800, if businesses in downtown would put up the remaining amount.
Siebert said volunteer efforts to clean up graffiti will continue in conjunction with the pilot project.
Siebert said the volunteers will be assisting Peer Pressure in removing graffiti downtown, learning the best methods at the same time.
Again, Siebert said there was the rest of the city to consider, indicating that she was considering expanding the volunteer program over a larger area. But even if there is no volunteer help, she continued, Peer Pressure will have the graffiti removed in the seven-day time frame.
Property owners outside the downtown pilot program area will also be able to access Peer Pressure’s services, but since they won’t be covered by the contract, will have to pay individually.
“A one off call-out ranges from $200 to $300,” she said, noting that it would depend on the extent of the clean-up. “It’s quite expensive.”