COLD LAKE - “We’re trying to improve the look of the community, and to have someone come along and tag something just because they want to, that’s very frustrating."
City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland explained how council is hoping to deter potential vandals by increasing the fines and creating a program where residents and business owners can report graffiti.
The fine for those caught has tripled. A first-time offender will now face a $1,500 fine. A second offence within the same calendar year results in a $3,000 penalty, and the third and any subsequent incidences result in a $4,500 fine.
Copeland said it's "tough to catch people in the act," so they've implemented a program similar to the city's Report a Pothole tool. Through the city's website, a resident or business owner can pinpoint the exact location of graffiti, upload photos and other attachments, and submit comments in addition to their contact information.
“Everything seems to be getting tagged lately. Some of our boardwalk paving stones have graffiti. We brought it forward (to council) and thought ‘what can we do.’”
The city is also creating an incentive program to help private property owners with the cost of cleaning up graffiti.
“The business community is frustrated. They’ll fix graffiti and it just comes back,” stressed Copeland.
Businesses aren't the only places being targeted. City parks and buses are also falling victim to the issue.
“We want the parks for the kids... We want the buses to be clean... We’re trying to lock it down as best we can in terms of the growth of the graffiti, but it has been more noticeable at times,” Copeland stated.
While the increase in fines will be implemented immediately, the reporting tool and incentive program are in the works.