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Kelowna aims to send a message to graffiti vandals with lawsuit

Lawsuit to 'send a message'

The City of Kelowna is hoping to “send a message” with two lawsuits filed this week against a pair of alleged prolific graffiti vandals.

While lawyers are expensive, the municipality spends about $350,000 a year dealing with graffiti, a crime the criminal justice system pays little attention to.

“These particular individuals are causing extensive damage to our community,” Kelowna crime prevention supervisor Colleen Cornock told Castanet on Friday.

The lawsuits allege Daniel Eide and Dylan Martinello are responsible for nearly 2,700 tags between them over the span of 16 years.

“In addition to cost recovery, the civil action is really about specific deterrence for these particular offenders, but also to send a message and public denunciation and general deterrence of graffiti vandalism,” Cornock said.

“What we are seeking to do is send a message that graffiti has a significant impact on our community and we are willing to pursue those options for recovery and the message that it sends.”

City council approved the lawsuit behind closed doors in July of last year.

Cornock said the city will be seeing where this civil claim lands, leaving the door open to similar lawsuits against prolific vandals if these claims pay off.

A criminal charge for mischief under $5,000 against Martinello was stayed by prosecutors last year. Charges were also pursued against Eide back in 2013. Cornock could not say why it was city lawyers and not provincial criminal prosecutors dealing with the file.

Cornock said graffiti impacts a community’s sense of safety, so they take it very seriously. She said the city has seen a 41 per cent increase in reported graffiti the first quarter of 2021 when compared to last year.



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