The City of Regina recently revealed there was a “significant” increase in cleanup costs for graffiti last year during the pandemic, in comparison to previous years.
Every year, the city budgets $105,100 for graffiti cleanup costs.
The cost of cleanup in 2020 was $137,800, almost double the amount in 2019, which was $71,900.
Brent Krahenbil, manager of facilities maintenance for the city, says 2020 was an anomaly.
“We don’t really know why the amount of graffiti was higher in 2020, the obvious assumption is that it was pandemic related, but we really don’t know,” Krahenbil said.
He adds that as of the end of June this year, there already appears to be a decrease, with cleanup costs were sitting at $44,100 to date.
The city aims to remove graffiti on city property within 72 hours, and 24 hours when it is obscene or racist.
Regina Police Chief Evan Bray says holding offenders accountable is key to deterrence.
“Graffiti is a great example of a crime where it’s usually a small number of people committing a large number of crimes, and you’ll see someone will go on a spree and the tag that they put on a park bench is also on a garage, also on a light pole and whatever,” Bray explained.
The police chief adds that another integral part of graffiti prevention includes cleanup efforts.
“Because if you leave it, it’s the broken windows theory,” Bray stated.
“If you leave it, it just really causes more people to think that is an acceptable thing to do.”
“So, we really do encourage homeowners to clean it up,” he said.
The city says it wants property owners to remember to record, report and then remove the graffiti as soon as possible if their property gets vandalized.
The city also says residents should take a picture to provide to RPS to help with their investigation.
Bylaw enforcement officers do have the ability to issue a 14-day notice to remove graffiti under the Community Standards Bylaw No 2016-2 s. 10 Graffiti.
If no compliance has been reached during the process, then a bylaw enforcement officer can issue an Order to Comply within 16 days.
The owner does have the right to appeal the order as per section 329 of The Cities Act, and if no appeal has been received during the second stage of this process, then the city has the power to take whatever actions or measures it deems necessary to remedy the situation.