The fight against graffiti continues in Burnaby.
The Burnaby RCMP is continuing to take a pro-active approach to fighting graffiti in the city.
According to Const. Shelby Murphy, the Burnaby RCMP's anti-graffiti coordinator, the city doesn't let graffiti stay on walls for very long.
"When we're made aware of graffiti in the city, we try to get it down as soon as possible," said Murphy. "The message we want to send is we're going to take back the community. If we see graffiti, we'll have weekly paintouts to get it taken down."
Murphy said graffiti often shows up on buildings around SkyTrain lines, and with both lines running through Burnaby, that means the city sees more than its fair share of graffiti.
Convincing youth that graffiti isn't a harmless crime is part of Murphy's strategy.
"We want youths to realize that there is a criminal subculture to graffiti and graffiti can lead to more serious crimes," said Murphy. "The common perception is it's only kids who are getting involved with graffiti, but we're seeing more adults between the ages of 18 and 22 getting involved. ... When youths get involved in that network, it can lead to other criminal things."
Murphy said any youths who are arrested often go through the restorative justice program, which has a large education aspect to it.
The City of Burnaby's graffiti bylaw requires that hate-and profanity-laced graffiti be removed within 48 hours and all other types of graffiti be removed within 14 days.
There is a $500 fine for placing graffiti and up to a $500 fine for failure to remove graffiti.
Burnaby RCMP is treating graffiti vandalism with zero tolerance, as those caught engaging in graffiti vandalism can face criminal charges or a bylaw fine.
Businesses that have been victimized by graffiti vandalism are asked to call 911 if it is in progress and report all other graffiti damage to the Burnaby RCMP's non-emergency number at 604-294-7922.
Reports can also be made to the City of Burnaby graffiti hotline at 604-298-TAGS (8247) or online at www.burnaby.ca/reportgraffiti.
The city has also been involved with a mural program where the city funds up to half the costs of murals in the city.
Research has shown that graffiti artists tend to leave murals alone. Burnaby has more than 17 murals painted on private property, with businesses covering the other half of the costs. Businesses do have to pay all the up-front costs and apply to the mural program for reimbursement.
Burnaby's four neighbourhood associations - Edmonds Business and Community Association, Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association, the Heights Merchant Association and Burnaby North Road Business Improvement Association - are involved in the application process.
The city has had a task force on graffiti for several years now. The city enacted a tough anti-graffiti bylaw in September 2007 and created the position of anti-graffiti coordinator to combat the problem of tagging in Burnaby.
Murphy works with Kathy Wipf, the city's anti-graffiti coordinator. Questions on graffiti vandalism can be directed to Wipf at 604-294-7388 or Murphy at 604-294-7922.