Taggers turn up the heat

Penticton business owners are concerned, following a recent outbreak of graffiti in back alleys in the downtown.

Several say the problem is ongoing, but in the past week it has become the worst they've ever seen.

"I spotted it in the morning, when I came to work a couple of days ago, and it was like graffiti apocalypse," said one, who declined to give his name. 

Newly constructed walls, existing buildings, cars and doors were all targeted by the tagger or taggers.

Making the situation even worse, is several murals painted in the alleys in recent years to beautify the city, were also defaced.

"To tag over somebody else's art work, that should be a street smart thing that you just don't do that," said a second businessman.

People are so upset, that someone has written, "do not disrespect other art!' under one of the big art pieces.

Deputy Mayor John Vassilaki said he started getting phone calls about the graffiti on Wednesday.

His personal comments are that the city has a policy where they don't really go after the tagger, because that is a police matter.

But what the city does do is when it gets really bad it sends out warning letters to property owners to clean up all the graffiti on their properties.

"It is their responsibility, there are  no city crews to clean it up, we don't have the resources to do that kind of stuff," he said.

Ample time is given for the owners to clean it up, and if they don't they get fined.

The solutions he suggests are that parents be responsible for the cost of the damage caused by the taggers or the province, if they are under its care.

"We can't continue to put the burden on our taxpayers with paying for this clean up," he said.

Penticton RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said they are well aware the downtown has been really hit the last few days and are making it a priority.

Currently, they are working on stepping up community policing programs to deal with the matter and their crime analyst is working on it.

Dellebuur said she is cataloguing, monitoring and cross referencing to try and determine patterns and types of tags and graffiti.

"The hope is to link them to other similar occurrences and then ultimately link them to the people responsible," he said.

He asks that people in the community be diligent and note suspicious behaviour.

He echoed Vassilaki's request that parents take more of a role.

"Parents should check their kids' backpacks to see if they have spray paint and sharpies and know what their kids are up to at night," he said. "We as a society can only do so much. So if more responsibility falls on the parent, more is done."

Typical charges in such a situation would be mischief under the criminal code, he added.

Vassilaki hopes that ultimately every one in the community will step up to do something about the ongoing problem.

"What happens is people paint over it, and a few days later, it's back, so it's never ending," he said. "It remains a big concern for not only me as deputy mayor, but every council member and community member."




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