A staff report on the agenda of today's meeting of city council's community and protective services committee recommends a new bylaw that would require building owners and others to remove graffiti quickly or face possible fines. If owners don't remove graffiti, city workers would. The bill would be added to the owner's tax bill.
This new bylaw, if passed, would make property owners pay a fine for having graffiti on their buildings. It would also force legitimate property owners to promptly remove it at their expense or else the city will. Of course, London's "Graffiti Gestapo" will not punish the culprits of petty vandalism, but the victim.
This new law has been spearheaded by councilor Bernie MacDonald, who recently championed another "anti-graffiti" bylaw which prohibits businesses from selling spraypaint--a legal product--to minors. This law is futile since teen vandals can easily get spraypaint from parents, friends, or just by driving outside the city limits. There is zero proof that this bylaw has worked at stemming graffiti. In fact, it's worse:
Last year, police investigated 391 graffiti complaints compared with 161 in 2005. and laid 125 criminal charges last year, compared with 93 the year before.However, this bylaw has worked at dictating what legitimate businesses can sell to customers. Even more shocking, the "Graffiti Gestapo" has hired undercover teen decoys to snuff out law-breaking businesses:
Meanwhile, bylaw enforcement officers -- using underage buyers in a sting-like blitz -- issued tickets to dozens of retailers for selling graffiti tools to underage customers.Wow, with this bureaucratic war on graffiti, it's a wonder that business owners aren't facing jail time. Bernie MacDonald is more worrisome about why we should stop graffiti at any cost:
"I've seen buildings covered in graffiti for months and months. If we're ever going to get this turned around, we've got to get it stopped and removing it is the best way to stop it. Otherwise, this city is going to look like one big slum."You're right about one thing Bernie: this city will look like a slum--when all the businesses ditch this red tape paradise and run for the hills.