Ignorance not bliss with graffiti

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Amherst is facing a bit of a dilemma when it comes to dealing with graffiti in the downtown core. It’s not a huge problem, with just a couple of buildings being the target of vandals, but the question is who should pay to have targeted buildings cleaned up.

Several times in recent years, the town has looked at the best way of tackling graffiti. It’s examined everything from asking businesses to ban the sale of spray paint to young people to installing video surveillance in graffiti prone areas such as by the former ‘Riddles’ building on Station Street.

Several months ago, town council asked staff to come up with a bylaw that would require property owners to clean up their buildings within seven days of getting a notice about graffiti. The draft bylaw, presented during the September committee of the whole meeting, not only sets out when graffiti is to be removed but also sets fines of up to $5,000 or 90 days in jail with an additional penalty of up to $100 or 10 days in jail for each day the graffiti remains place.

Not surprisingly, several members of town council are balking at the heavy-handed approach saying it will punish the victims of crime by forcing them to pay to clean a mess they didn’t create.

Coun. Dale Fawthrop is suggesting an incentive plan that, instead of fining those who don’t comply with the bylaw, provides them seed money to fix the damage. He thinks punitive measures should be removed all together from the proposed bylaw while town CAO Greg Herrett said it would be difficult to have legislation without some sort of stick for those who make no effort to respond.

Graffiti is not a huge issue in Amherst, that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Anytime someone paints something on a wall it leaves a less than desirable mark and the quicker it’s removed the better the chances of it not returning.

Having an incentive plan to clean up graffiti is a great idea, but at the end of the day someone has to pay up if the graffiti is mean with ignorance or indifference.


Geographic location: Amherst

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Recent comments

  • Neil
    April 12, 2012 - 13:21

    This is INSANE! to make money off of victims of crime?? You should be ashamed of yourselves for even coming up with such a stupid by-law.. These people are VICTIMS of crime, would you tell a young mother who was stabbed that she had to pay her own medial expenses and if she didn't make her payments she would be fined every day and possibly thrown in jail? Let them clean it up in their own time, but don't threaten them to do it, that's insane, and honestly disgusting the someone would even think to come up with that.

  • Dan P.
    November 20, 2011 - 18:59

    Fining or imprisoning the victims would be a case of bringing the administration of justice into disrepute, it makes no sense at all from a justice stand point. Secondly, subsidizing the victims with tax payers money would be a way of creating other victims, as other members of the community would be forced to pay for the damage. If the damage was done to a municipally owned building, the use of tax payers money would be more acceptable, as municipal property is community owned, but tax payers are not responsible to finance the repair of others people's property, unless they chose to make a donation to that individual on their own. It would be nice if the graffiti were removed, but it is up to the business owner(s) to remove it if they chose to, as it is their property. If the perpetrators were caught, it would not be unreasonable for a judge to order restitution to be paid by the accused, but they probably weren't caught. Unfortunately, the business owners are the victim of a crime and will either have to live with the graffiti, and the rest of us will have to live with looking at it, unless the owners decide to remove it. I hope town council will see it this way.

    • Doug Forbes
      March 14, 2012 - 07:04

      There is a fine line between what one might call grafitti and artistic impression and obvously because it has become an issue it could be as distatsteful then yes it should be removed no question on that. As for finding out good luck with that on bringing those responsible for it to accountability police probably see it as one of those issues where even if we do get it too court how much emphasis will be put deterence and accountability vs a slap on the wrist....there are cases where sentencing structure in the current syustem makes little or no sense at all and this could likely to prove that further but for sure it does not leave a good impression if the grafitti is disgraceful or demeaning...

  • Big A
    September 21, 2011 - 19:44

    If the people putting the graffiti on the buildings are caught, make them clean it up, fine them & put them in jail. Problem solved!