Regulations around the sale of spray paint might make their way to the City of Langford following a string of graffiti vandalism cases.
Langford’s Protective Services Committee resolved to look into and research a regulatory bylaw that would restrict the way spray paints are stocked and displayed at retail stores.
The staff report submitted to committee said there has been an increase in reports of graffiti vandalism on city property and private property like walls, sidewalks and vehicles.
“This type of widespread damage is unusual for Langford,” the report reads.
Coun. Lillian Szpak, who is chair of the Protective Services Committee, said city staff want to work with business owners to find out what the challenges may be for them before bringing the resolution to council. She noted some stores have faced outright theft with spray paint being stolen off the shelves.
“The graffiti vandalism has been on an upswing in the last few months in Langford and we’re noticing it,” Szpak said. “We don’t consider it to be art, we consider it to be vandalism.”
Regulations around the sale of spray paint could involve excluding minors as purchasers or stocking the spray paint behind counters or locked display cases.
Szpak said a bylaw was created in 2008 to hold parents accountable if their children are caught vandalizing property. However, she said many cases recently involve adults as well. She said evidence provided by Langford’s bylaw department also proves how large the problem has become.
Paul Lambert, a bylaw enforcement officer with the City of Langford, said the bylaw department keeps a record of various graffiti tags that are reported. Officers take a photo of the vandalism and place the photo in a catalogue that is shared with different municipalities and police.
“It allows us to track patterns,” Lambert said. “Criminals don’t recognize borders…we’ll see the same tag in Langford that could appear in Colwood.”
Lambert said seeing graffiti vandalism on buildings makes things feel uninviting and even derelict. City staff try to remove graffiti from surfaces as quickly as possible in order to deter more from taking place in the same spot.
“Look at how beautiful Langford is and how hard the city works to make it such a pretty place to live, and then to have someone defacing it,” Szpak said. “That’s really upsetting for people.”
Szpak also noted that taking care of smaller crimes early on is effective in keeping the community safe.
Recent graffiti vandalism cases in Langford involved a 26-year-old man who was arrested for spray-painting graffiti on a roundabout and young girls who were arrested for spray-painting graffiti.