The latest round of graffiti tagging in the Terrace downtown core was the final straw for area businesses who are now banding together to tackle the problem of vandalism once and for all.
“This problem has certainly gotten worse recently,” said Anna Beddie of the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area society (TDIA). “It is ugly and disrespectful to our beautiful community.”
Over Easter weekend, there was what appeared to be a “tagging war” that RCMP believe included as many as five vandals.
The reason for the onslaught of graffiti over the last few weeks is said to be because spring is in the air, said Beddie. But before the seasons change, Terrace residents could see new initiatives to curb vandals and keep the outside of Terrace buildings clean.
“It is a work in progress and so many people could be involved and are going to be involved,” said Beddie, noting the community is working together on this initiative and other groups, like the Terrace Beautification Society have been doing their part as well.
TDIA will be presenting potential initiatives to the city, and city council will “give serious consideration to any suggestions put forward by the TDIA,” said Heather Avison, chief administrator for the City of Terrace, noting the city already has a policy to remove graffiti on city-owned property.
Money for graffiti cleanup comes from either Leisure Services or building maintenance depending on where the graffiti occurs, she said.
Some of the solutions could include a bylaw for business owners to clean up graffiti on their buildings within 48 hours, imploring local businesses to limit who they sell spray paint to – and potentially keeping it under lock and key, and a graffiti hotline for public tips.
There is also talk of introducing a graffiti cleanup team – potentially made up of one main staff member, volunteers, youth groups and people serving community service – to remove the graffiti as soon as possible.
Removing graffiti very soon after it is put up acts as a deterrent to other vandals, said Const. Angela Rabut of the Terrace RCMP detachment.
Bob Park of All Seasons Source for Sports says a bylaw isn’t necessary, but it is time for businesses to work together to fix this problem.
“There’s no use being penalized twice. You’re penalized because it’s done to your building, and then you have a time limit to clean it up and if you don’t clean it up on time, you get another fine on top of that? No,” he said, of the bylaw idea.
“Word of mouth, co-operation, it works. If you clean it up, it helps, that’s the best way.”
Murals, like the one on the side of the All Seasons and Elan Travel building act as deterrents as well, said Park, adding more murals could be part of the solution.
Although the city of Terrace said they have no plans for murals at this time.
But Park said businesses can do their part to alleviate the mess.
“I think they can have better lighting, they can put in outside cameras, and just make sure that if they do get graffitied that they clear it off right away,” he said. “We gotta get the word out there that we’re not going to accept it, that we have to get rid of it when it is done.”
One business owner who has dealt with more than his fair share of vandalism is Richard’s Cleaners’ John Heighington.
He says each act of vandalism is a personal attack on people who pay business taxes in the downtown core, that insurance doesn’t cover the cleanup costs, and that the RCMP need to educate the perpetrators on how these acts affect local people who have to deal with the aftermath.
“Nothing can be done to the culprits even if they are caught red-handed and the cost to everyone just goes up,” he said.
“Frustrating. I just clean the mess up the next day and stay prepared.”