Colwood bylaw enforcement officer Phil Williams removes a large patch of graffiti. Police were called in to investigate a threatening piece of graffiti at Colwood elementary last month and have suspects identified.

Colwood bylaw enforcement officer Phil Williams removes a large patch of graffiti. Police were called in to investigate a threatening piece of graffiti at Colwood elementary last month and have suspects identified.

West Shore graffiti on the decline

Better co-operation, stronger deterrents spur reduction

The problem of graffiti surfacing on the West Shore has seen a dramatic reduction, according to bylaw enforcement officials from Langford and Colwood.

Despite a couple of recent acts of vandalism at Ruth King elementary and on the Millstream overpass, the number of incidents in Langford has been dropping for the past five years, said City of Langford bylaw officer Paul Lambert. He cited increasing fines from $100 to $500 per graffiti tag as one reason, adding one youth was recently fined $1,500 for three tags in different locations. “Another deterrent is our efforts to cover up graffiti as soon as it surfaces,” he said.

Bylaw officers carry spray that covers the damage until further repairs can be done, if required.

The Millstream overpass tagging was handled by bylaw enforcement officers, who were tipped off by RCMP after police received calls from passing motorists. “They were able to catch them red-handed before the RCMP arrived,” Lambert said. Langford has added two bylaw officers for 2016 to increase bike and vehicle patrols during the day and night.

Fellow Langford bylaw officer Brad Batter cites regular meetings with police and other agencies throughout the Capital Region and communities up Island as also helping.

“The offenders tend to move around,” he said. “Broad-based information sharing really helps in that regard. Without the proper resources and co-operation between agencies, I think we’d be back to where we were years ago.”

Lorne Fletcher, manager of community safety and enforcement for Langford, said the city took a strong approach to dealing with the problem in 2008. The city took the parents of a prolific young offender to court to recover the cost of extensive graffiti damage in a case that was settled in 2011.

“We got calls from across Canada from solicitors representing cities (after the court settlement) asking for details about the case,” Fletcher said. “It was significant, because the parents were held responsible for the actions of their son.”

The city received $10,000 for damage to public property and $1,000 to repair damage to private property. In addition, terms included a $2,000 donation to the Goldstream Food Bank, 100 hours of community service and an order for the offender to take counselling.

Coun. Lillian Szpak, chair of Langford’s protective services committee, agreed co-operation between agencies is key. “Council has taken a very proactive approach to dealing with damage to public and private property,” she said. “The significant reduction we’re seeing indicates we’re clearly on the right path.”

Colwood bylaw officer Phil Williams said graffiti in Colwood is at a five-year low, with an overall reduction of 92 per cent of tags since 2011.

“We’re very pleased with the results. It’s been a watershed year, the first year we haven’t had to fine anyone,” he said. “Sharing of information with other agencies is paramount in reducing the damage from graffiti.” According to a recent report, the cost of graffiti removal was $5,435 in 2015, compared to $35,000 in 2012. That’s a significant reduction considering millions of dollars a year are spent battling graffiti throughout the Capital Region, Williams noted.

Colwood ran 20 offenders through its alternate disposition program between 2012 and 2015. The program aims to deter offenders through fines, education and community service, which is typically spent repairing damage or picking up litter. An agreement with BC Hydro provides Colwood with $1,000 a year for graffiti removal supplies. Williams also credits Rona Home and Garden Centre for donating rollers, trays and paint brushes, further reducing costs.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police arrested a man after at least 14 downtown locations were damaged Jan. 20. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria glass smashing suspect believed to be water taxi thief

Man arrested for damaging at least 14 downtown locations

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

West Shore RCMP seized a stolen fish finder and drugs after searching a Colwood home Jan. 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search of Colwood home reveals stolen fish finder, drug trafficking evidence

West Shore RCMP suspect a 46-year-old woman is responsible

The purchase of 27 acres in the Millstream Creek watershed by The Land Conservancy and other partners will protect a sensitive ecosystem in the Highlands. (Photo contributed by The Land Conservancy)
Provincial land conservancy lays out $600,000 for Highlands property

Anonymous donor helps buy purchased 11.1 hectares of Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Island driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Most Read