Graffiti management

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. 

We recognize the social and economic consequences of graffiti vandalism. Graffiti costs the community hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in painting and removal costs. Money allocated to graffiti clean up is no longer available to other valuable community initiatives and programs. In 2014, we spent more than $280,000 for graffiti removal off public property. On average, we receive more than 550 service requests per month for graffiti removal.

Graffiti impacts our city’s image, deters patronage of commercial areas and negatively impacts on investment potential and maximum return on residential real estate. If not immediately removed, graffiti serves as an invitation to littering, loitering, additional graffiti, and other forms of crime and acts of violence. Graffiti on public and private properties, without property owner permission, is vandalism.

Graffiti program initiatives

Graffiti hotline
We operate a telephone and email Graffiti Hotline that allows 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 (option 7) or by using our 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.  Further information is available in the  Graffiti Bylaw .

Turn in a tagger
In partnership with Crime Stoppers, we are offering a $500 reward for tips that lead to an arrest for graffiti vandalism. Tips can be reported by calling 1-800-222-8477, texting ktown to CRIMES (274637) or leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net .

Graffiti prevention

The following are steps you can take to reduce susceptibility to graffiti vandalism. 

  1. Increase lighting around your property, add motion sensor lighting to ensure your property appears occupied at all times.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Graffiti murals, like Reach for the Stars, have also demonstrated an impact on deterring tagging.

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.

Volunteer opportunities

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 (option 7) for more information.

Here’s how you can help:

  • 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.