What is graffiti vandalism?
Graffiti includes one or more letters, symbols, or marks made on public, private, or other surfaces without permission.
Graffiti vandalism is a concern for cities around the world and a growing challenge both in downtown Victoria and beyond. It harms residents, organizations, businesses, and property owners. It’s estimated that graffiti clean-up costs downtown business owners over $1 million a year.
MY DOWNTOWN VICTORIA PROPERTY HAS BEEN TAGGEd. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There are several clean-up options available to you:
- Report it to the Victoria Police Department.
- By phone: non-emergency, 250-995-7654
- Remove the graffiti yourself. As a property owner, it is your responsibility to remove graffiti from your building.
- Hire a professional graffiti removal company to remove it for you, especially if you’re in a heritage building
- Contact the DVBA Clean Team at 250-386-2238
In the course of its daily work, our Clean Team does its best to remove graffiti tags. If a tag has been overlooked, please call our office. If you have a large tag on a painted surface that you would like covered over, the Clean Team will do the painting if you provide the paint.
How can I keep my building from becoming a graffiti target?
- Apply a mural to your wall, see the City’s art project grant guidelines here
- Apply a protective coating on your walls, which facilitates graffiti removal (but will not repel graffiti)
- Keep your property tidy and clean up any graffiti as soon as you discover it
- Eliminate opportunities for vandals to access rooftops and alleyways between buildings
- Apply for a DVBA lighting grant to deter vandals, increase security, and beautify your downtown street or building
- Plant hedges, trees, bushes and/or gardens in front of heavily targeted walls
- Consider installing a Ring camera device and post signage that the area is under surveillance
Who is responsible for removing graffiti from public property?
The City of Victoria is responsible for removing graffiti from public places such as City buildings, lamp standards, signs, and other public amenities. If you see graffiti on public property, use the City’s ConnectVictoria app to report graffiti online.
There are many features on or around public property that do not belong to the City but are the responsibility of external organizations. For example, the removal of graffiti on a telephone pole or electrical box is the responsibility of BC Hydro. Other utility boxes in the public realm belong to either Telus or Shaw.
More information on the City’s Graffiti Prevention Program.
Why should you care about graffiti?
Graffiti vandalism is more than just words or symbols written on a wall. Graffiti:
- Leaves the impression that no-one cares about downtown Victoria
- Leads to an increase in crime and vandalism
- Hurts business by discouraging shopping and dining
- Impacts the sense of safety and security of workers, residents, and visitors
- Looks unsightly and impacts civic pride in our beautiful city
- Costs downtown Victoria property owners and businesses more than $1M a year
What is tagging all about anyways?
The most common type of graffiti vandalism is “Wildstyle tagging,” which consists of hand scribbles and sometimes bubble lettering or complex words that are called “throw-ups,” because they take seconds to write. There are also gang-related tags that mark territory and hate-related symbols.
How do I identify a graffiti vandal or tagger?
Taggers come from every race and socio-economic background. Some indicators that an individual within your family or social circle may be a tagger are:
- Tagging written on their clothing such as their shoes or inside their baseball cap, schoolbooks, notebooks, backpacks, and on their bedroom furniture or walls
- Carrying a large backpack. These are used to carry cans of spray-paint, magic markers, etching tools, and blank stickers
- Having the same moniker or set of letters written repeatedly on clothing or personal items. This may be the tagging crew’s initials
- Staying out late at night or has taken to sneaking out of the house
- Having marker residue on their fingertips and/or clothes
- Carrying a black artist notebook that contains tagging or drawings
- Frequently visiting tagging websites online, owning tagging magazines, or having photographs of tagging in their bedroom
These are some of the general traits of people involved in tagging. For more information about tagging contact the Victoria Police Department, Community Resource Officer.
What are the legal consequences of graffiti tagging?
Property Maintenance Bylaw 07-050 prevents the unsightliness of property by prohibiting graffiti and requiring that property be kept free of graffiti.
To the property owner:
Section 8.1 of the City of Victoria’s property maintenance bylaw states that after 14 days of being served notice, a property owner must either remove the graffiti or appeal the City’s proposed actions. Property owners who do not take action will either face a fine or have the remaining graffiti removed and the cost associated will be billed to the property owner.
To the vandal:
Graffiti is considered vandalism under the law when it is written on private or public property without permission. The minimum fine for anyone caught writing graffiti is $750.
Read the City of Victoria Property Maintenance Bylaw.