‘Punitive and ridiculous’: Vancouver company questions fine for graffiti on dumpsters – BC


A longtime Vancouver business owner plagued by graffiti vandalism is questioning the city’s priorities after claiming he is paying the price for repeated tagging.

David McKie, chairman of Dressew Supply, said a film crew recently paid him to add more graffiti to the alley behind his West Hastings Street store, where owners are required to remove illegal tags or face penalties. fines.

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« It’s sorely ironic, » McKie said.

The $500 he received is the same amount as a fine the city levied earlier this year for the condition of his dumpster.

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“With all the issues going on in the city right now, graffiti in a dumpster in an alleyway is so far down the list,” McKie told Global News.

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« It’s ridiculous. »

Dressew Supply, which sells fabric, sewing supplies and costume supplies, has been in the same downtown location since 1981.

McKie secured its storefront in late March 2020 and it remains closed to guard against rampant vandalism.

Windows of nearby businesses along West Hastings, West Cordova and West Pender streets have been repeatedly smashed, and Dressew recently shared photos of the damage on social media.

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McKie said he paid $80 a month for professionals to remove graffiti from outside his apartment building for 25 years – until charges jumped 400% during the pandemic.

“We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars for decades fighting graffiti and it’s just not working,” McKie said.

Every trash can is its alley, McKie said, is awash in graffiti and repainting it only gives taggers a new canvas.

In March, the city warned Waste Connections that McKie’s trash can violated solid waste regulations because the carrier’s label and user’s address were obscured by graffiti.

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An order to comply followed, but McKie said he refused to repaint the dumpster, knowing it would be tagged again.

His garbage hauler was then slapped with a $500 bill for failing to obey the earlier order, a fine, according to McKie, passed on to him.

« It just seems punitive and ridiculous, » he said.

« The city doesn’t help small businesses, they fine them for being victims of crime, I just can’t understand. »

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Councilman Pete Fry, who tried to help McKie get the fine overturned, said the policy to limit graffiti didn’t work in this case.

“We need to come up with a better set of solutions,” Fry said in an interview.

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« It punishes him and he obviously can’t keep up with the pace, nor his hauler, so there’s definitely some work that we need to figure out. »

Global News has asked the City of Vancouver why fines for graffiti on commercial trash cans are a priority given other pressing issues like homelessness, a deadly drug crisis, with the VPD reporting an average of four random attacks per day and ongoing street disturbances.

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In response, the city, which levied the fine, accused the waste hauler of passing it on to the business owner.

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“The city’s approach is not to target, enforce or impose fines solely for graffiti on waste containers stored on city property. However, if the city is seeking compliance with another larger issue with a waste container (i.e. missing ID/carrier tag or overflowing waste) and graffiti is present, city ​​inspectors will note in the compliance order the requirement to keep the container free of graffiti,” read an emailed statement.

The number of orders issued for garbage containers on city property with missing ID or carrier tags or with excess garbage increased from 102 in 2021 to 170 in 2022 through the end of August.

Tickets have also increased from 18 issued in 2021 to 34 so far this year.

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« I think the city needs to take a completely different approach, » McKie said.

McKie also paid $150 for a new trash can in May, which he said was almost instantly covered in graffiti.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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