Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Graffiti?
- How does graffiti affect our community?
- Who are the victims of graffiti vandalism?
- What steps is the City of Kelowna taking to reduce graffiti vandalism?
- What can I do to prevent graffiti?
- Can I clean up graffiti on my own?
- What are some tips for removing graffiti?
- How can we stop graffiti vandalism?
- How can I help?
Graffiti is the unauthorized writing or drawing on any surface, building or structure. Graffiti can be painted, drawn, etched or scratched into a surface. One of the most prevalent forms of graffiti in Kelowna is “tagging”. “Tagging” is a simple, quick style of graffiti, involving the marking of the tagger’s initials, symbol or alias.
If not removed quickly, graffiti sends out a message that people do not care about their neighbourhood. It also causes the area to look unsafe and people may question their personal safety. By allowing graffiti to remain in our neighbourhoods, we are creating an open invitation for more littering, loitering and graffiti. In addition, failure to quickly respond to the presence of graffiti may also lead to an increase in other crimes and acts of violence.
Graffiti is a crime that costs the community hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in painting and removal costs. Whether the target is private or public property, graffiti vandalism affects the entire community. Money allocated to graffiti clean up is no longer available to other valuable community initiatives and programs.
Graffiti also impacts our city’s image, deters patronage of commercial areas and negatively impacts on investment potential and maximum return on residential real estate.
The City of Kelowna operates a telephone and email Graffiti Hotline that allows Kelowna residents to report graffiti vandalism on private and public properties. Kelowna residents are encouraged to contact the hotline and leave a detailed message regarding the location of graffiti vandalism. Reports to the hotline may be made by phone at 469-8600 or by using our online service request system.
City of Kelowna’s Unsightly Premises Bylaw
The City of Kelowna’s Unsightly Premises and Visual Nuisance bylaw prohibits graffiti on or adjacent to a public place. The bylaw facilitates city staff to enter a property and remove graffiti at the expense of the property owner if the property owner fails to remove graffiti in response to a formal notification from the city.
The following are steps property owners can take to reduce their susceptibility to graffiti vandalism.
- Increase lighting around your property, add motion sensor lighting to ensure your property appears occupied at all times.
- Examine your property to determine if you have any walls or fences that are vulnerable to graffiti vandalism, it is important to eliminate “blank canvases” on your property. One way to eliminate vulnerable surfaces is to plant vegetation such as ivy or thorny bushes in front of vulnerable walls.
- Remove structures that will enable access to second storeys, these may include ladders or dumpsters. Second storey walls allow for the high visibility of graffiti vandalism.
- Cover walls with protective anti-graffiti coatings. This is recommended if your property has stucco, brick or any other surface that may not be able to be painted over.
Property owners are responsible for painting over or removing graffiti on their own property. Residents are encouraged to do so as soon after the graffiti appears, as this will reduce the opportunity for the offenders to receive notoriety for their crime. If you are interested in assisting with graffiti removal from someone else’s property, you will require the permission of the property owner before removing the graffiti.
Tips for removing graffiti:
- Apply a primer coat to the surface to prevent the graffiti from “bleeding” through the topcoat. Following the primer coat, apply two coats of latex paint.
- Paint over graffiti with latex paint. Residents are encouraged to keep an extra gallon of paint on hand, so that way they will be able to respond to the vandalism as soon as it appears.
- On bare surfaces such as untreated concrete, consider removal of graffiti with chemical solvents rather than paint.
There are a number of positive steps residents can take to reduce the occurrence of graffiti vandalism and facilitate the reclamation of their neighbourhoods and town centres.
- RECOGNIZE graffiti is a crime! Don’t become immune to the presence of graffiti; recognize that it is not acceptable to allow graffiti to become part of the urban landscape.
- REPORT graffiti on all public or private property to the City of Kelowna Graffiti Hotline 469-8600. Reporting graffiti is important for two reasons: 1. the appropriate steps can be taken for quick removal. 2. tracking of graffiti incidents is necessary in order to determine patterns of vandalism. If you witness an act of graffiti vandalism in progress, please contact 911 immediately.
- REMOVE graffiti as quickly after it appears (within 78 hours). Graffiti vandals generally seek recognition and attention from their peers, by removing tags quickly and consistently, offenders are not able to receive the desired notoriety. Failure to remove graffiti, may also lead to the appearance of additional graffiti on or nearby the original site.
Whether vandals target public or private property, their crime affects the entire community. Do your part in helping to keep Kelowna beautiful by volunteering your time. Volunteer opportunities exist for those interested in helping to wipe out graffiti. Call the graffiti hotline 250 469-8600 for more information.
- Sign up for the Adopt-A-Spot program. Individuals, organizations and/or businesses are invited to adopt a light standard, mailbox, utility transformer, or other “spot” and pledge to keep it graffiti free for a minimum of 6 months. As a member of the Adopt-A-Spot program, participants will receive a graffiti removal kit, complete with supplies that will assist participants as they take to the streets to wipe out graffiti!
- Organize a clean up event in your neighbourhood.