The City of Port Alberni wants to be proactive about graffiti, so its bylaw department has come up with a new program to assist businesses in removing graffiti from their buildings. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni’s bylaw department launches new graffiti-busting program

Bylaw department shifting to a ‘proactive’ approach

Port Alberni’s new bylaw services department has launched two new programs to help residents protect and repair their properties.

A new graffiti removal program assists property owners, both residential and commercial, whose property has been tagged with graffiti. Property owners will be delivered an information package that includes a voucher for one free can of paint and a brush, along with instructions for redeeming the voucher at participating paint stores in town.

The bylaw department’s graffiti provision is not new. It has not been enforced in the past, simply because the department did not have the resources. Now, property owners who do not comply with bylaws can face a fine, and the city will bring in a contractor to cover up graffiti at the property owner’s expense. But Flynn Scott, manager of bylaw services, says the department has shifted to a proactive approach in combating infractions—working with property owners, instead of handing out tickets.

READ: City doubles bylaw fines for unsightly properties

“We get in touch and ask if [property owners] want to participate,” explained Flynn Scott, manager of bylaw services. “It’s a choice to opt-in.”

After property owners receive a free can of paint with a matching colour, they have seven days to cover the graffiti. But the bylaw services department is willing to work with property owners in case of weather or “physical ailments” that make them unable to complete the work.

“We’re asking that they reach out to us,” he said. “We’re currently in the process of trying to establish a volunteer base for some of this work.”

Because the program is only a pilot project, Scott said participants are limited to one voucher per property.

“The concept is to get to [graffiti] as quickly as possible,” he explained. “We want to stay on top of it.”

According to Scott, statistics show that the repeat percentage is close to zero if tags are covered within 24 to 48 hours of appearance. The faster graffiti is removed, the less desirable a property becomes as a target to vandals.

“We’re trying to base it on that model—as quick as possible,” said Scott.

During a city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 28, Scott said that Port Alberni RCMP have already identified and apprehended two prolific taggers, only one week after the program was put in place.

The enhanced security initiative program is another pilot project that offers a matching grant to a maximum of $1,000 for security enhancements like video surveillance, exterior lighting and deadbolts/door locks for local businesses. Port Alberni city council put $25,000 in its 2018 budget for this program.

“We wanted to hold it to $1,000 for the quality of security improvements we were considering,” said Scott. “So we had to start with just commercial properties.”

However, Scott does hope to open the program to the rest of the community if there are still funds available after the Feb. 21 deadline.

“We definitely want everybody to be able to participate,” he said.

Applications are now being accepted for the enhanced security initiative program. You can download the application package online at www.portalberni.ca/bylaw-services-department. If you have graffiti on your property, you can email your address to bylaws@portalberni.ca or call 250-720-2831.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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