July 22, 2014 - 5:14 PM
PENTICTON - An end to tagging in downtown Penticton may be just around the corner, so long as council can agree on a feasible and effective plan to eradicate the vandalism.
City Council was presented Monday with several solutions to the tagging problem that received a lot of attention in the spring. Already there are 35 complaints in 2014, whereas there were only 34 complaints made in all of 2013, said Tina Siebert, the city’s bylaw supervisor.
—— It is important to note that Penticton has a tagging problem, not a graffiti problem. Tagging refers to the signatures spray painted on buildings and public property, often defacing graffiti, which is considered an art form.
Siebert and Kerri Milton, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association gave the presentation, which was first made to the Protective Services Advisory Committee, that is now recommending council to move a motion to support their efforts.
The presentation listed options, including painting, hiring a private company, creating a task force, and installing video surveillance — a costly and unlikely choice.
Not having volunteers is a challenge the community faces. In the spring, the Downtown Penticton Association gathered groups of high school students to volunteer to clean up the tags that were accumulating on the walls of local businesses and buildings. But the solution of painting over the tags was only temporary, said Kerri Milton, executive director of the association.
If a building is tagged, it is the building owner’s responsibility to report the vandalism to the city Bylaw office and have the tag removed at the owner’s expense within 15 days of the report.
Regardless of what decision council makes in the future to try and stop tagging in Penticton, there are three steps that need to be considered: eradication, education and enforcement, Milton said.
“It’s a gateway to other crimes,” said Siebert.
It’s best to deal with the issue while it’s at a bylaw-level, before things escalate, she said.
It also makes people feel unsafe, decreases tourism and property values over time, Milton said.
Taggers are rarely caught and charged with a criminal offence but those who have found themselves in that unfortunate situation are more often than not teenagers.
Council passed a motion Monday for staff to look at more options.
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