The municipality should start cracking down on private citizens who aren’t getting rid of unsightly graffiti on their property, a new report to Halifax Regional Council says.
The report, scheduled to come before council tomorrow evening, examines how the Halifax Regional Municipality has been dealing with graffiti over the past few years – and if more could be done to tackle the ongoing problem.
“It is frustrating for HRM to use its resources (time and funding) on graffiti removal when adjacent private property is not being maintained,” says the report. “Proposed changes to the HRM Charter will allow us to enforce removal on property owners who do not remove graffiti.”
According to Coun. Linda Mosher, who heads up HRM’s Graffiti Task Force, the change might be controversial, but it’s also necessary.
“We’re not just trying to throw this out and tell residents that if you have graffiti on your property, you’re responsible and that’s it,” she explained. “It’s critical to have the education component, and provide the tools for residents to remove it.”
Over the past two years, HRM has spent $1 million trying to rid the city of the streaks of spray-paint that adorn its walls, power boxes, and public parks. Mosher said that while commissioned murals and free graffiti clean-up kits have helped to cut down on the vandalism, there is still very little public awareness about the issue.
In an effort to change that, HRM will be hosting a three-day graffiti summit in the spring, which Mosher said will be accompanied by a huge public education and advertising “blitz.”
Coun. Dawn Sloane (Halifax Downtown) suggested rather than forcing private citizens to clean up their defaced property, people who have been sentenced to community service could do the cleaning.
“I think sometimes we’re a little lenient when it comes to prosecuting people,” Sloane said. “Why not put them to work picking up garbage and cleaning up (the graffiti)?”