Nova Scotia

Graffiti-defaced homes targeted by task force

If a task force has its way, property owners in the Halifax Regional Municipality will be charged cleanup costs to remove graffiti from their homes.

If a task force has its way, property owners in the Halifax Regional Municipality will be charged cleanup costs to remove unsightly graffiti from their homes.

Regional council will consider the idea at a meeting Tuesday.

Coun. Linda Mosher, chair of the task force, said if the bylaw covering dangerous and unsightly premises is modified to include graffiti, the municipality could clean or repaint a home and charge the homeowner.

"If you don't remove that, then more graffiti comes," Mosher told CBC News. "And it's the whole broken-window theory. It's proven that other associated crimes will occur and your tax dollars will end up paying for that anyway."

Spray-painting vandals are elusive. Halifax Regional Police said there were 239 reported incidents in 2007 and 153 in 2008, but only nine charges laid during that period.

"By the time they're done, if somebody notices it they're gone before the police can get there," said Const. Brian Palmeter, a police spokesman.

A report from the HRM's graffiti task force focuses on prevention and cleanup. The municipality spends $500,000 a year scrubbing and repainting public walls, the group noted.

Mosher said the secret to fighting graffiti is to clean it up fast, which means including private property owners in the battle.

"We would send somebody in and we give them a notice to remedy the work, to get it done. And if they don't, we go back and have the work done for them and we put it on their lien as their property tax," she said.

The task force also suggested public murals as a way to cut down on graffiti in an area, as well as public education.

"We have to educate parents that if they see their child starting to practise their tags, that that will lead to their child becoming a graffiti vandal. We have to educate youth in the schools about the importance of eradicating graffiti," said Mosher.

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