By Gord Bowes, News staff
Help may be on the way for homeowners battling graffiti vandalism.
The City of Hamilton is launching a pilot project on the east Mountain that could discourage vandals from marking up wooden fences on property lines backing onto public parks.
East Mountain councillor Tom Jackson said it’s being done in response to complaints from homeowners who feel they are being victimized twice — first from the graffiti vandalism, then from city bylaw officers demanding it be cleaned up within 24 hours.
At a public meeting June 12, Jackson and city officials outlined a pilot project around Fay Avenue and Lisgar parks.
“Fedges” — hedge fences — using willow whips will be installed along the fenceline to block what some vandals see as a blank slate to spray paint.
Jackson said the pilot project, which will cost in the area of $30,000, will be paid through the public works department and his local ward budget.
“No cost to the homeowners,” he said.
The eight residents in attendance had no objection to the idea.
Bylaw enforcement on the vandalized properties was suspended last year while the pilot project was developed. It will remain that way until the willow whips are planted.
Kelly Barnett of the city’s bylaw department said rapid removal of graffiti is key to keeping vandals away, that’s why the city puts the onus on property owners to clean it up.
But, she said, she can relate to residents getting upset and feel re-victimized when they are vandalized and then get an order to clean it up.
“We understand you’re a victim of crime,” she said.
Acting Sgt. Steve Whelan, a crime manager for Division 3 of Hamilton police, said police have made a concerted effort in recent years to crack down on graffiti and the vandals responsible for most of it.
“Slowly but surely we’re seeing those tags disappear,” he said.
Phil Homerski of the Keep Hamilton Clean and Green committee said planting of hedge fences is usually done in the spring, but the city will look at whether it can be done later this summer.