Susan Clarke, the city councillor spearheading the anti graffiti effort in the borough of Côte des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grâce in my opinion is an idiot looking to get herself into the news. I agree that the tagging of buildings is a disgrace and something needs to be done about it, but punishing innocent landlords and property owners is just shameful, but to target one type of property owner and not the others is just idiotic and will do little to improve the look of the area riddled with graffiti. Further more in my opinion Susan Clarke has asked the businesses owners in her riding of Cote des Neige Notre Dame de Grace to police themselves, take the law into their own hands without seriously considering the ramifications of such actions. The war against graffiti is not against the landlord who is being violated, because the landlord is the tax paying victim and has already did his part to secure his property by helping to pay the salaries of the police whose job it is to protect everyone’s property. The combatants in this war should be the city officials, the police, the legal system against the people vandalising other peoples property e.g. vandals such as the people responsible for the illegal graffiti, gang taggers and any other idiot with a spray can using private property as a canvas.
Maybe Susan Clarke in her infinite wisdom could enlighten the people of this city as to when it became a building owners responsibility to do the job of the police? Is it realistic to expect the property owners of this borough to bear the burden of protecting their property from vandals around the clock, or pick up the expense of such a task, which I believe falls under the police mandate and is part of why we pay ever-increasing taxes. Vandalism is a crime as far as I know and it is not acceptable to simply put the burden of the police on the backs of responsible law-abiding property owners. Instead of repaying property owners out of some victims fund, or with tax relief the city increases the fines the more the property owners are violated; instead of apologising for the inability of the police to do their job and protect them and their property, the city threatens the property owner with legal action.
Susan Clarke and the city are playing a dangerous game and one that just does not make sense, because they are trying to shift the responsibility for policing private property onto the citizen and property owner without giving them the same legal tools as law enforcement has, what the city is saying could be interpreted as a call for vigilantism, because the city just can not get the job done. Maybe Susan Clarke in her infinite wisdom could further enlighten the people of this city and explain to us just how far business owners can go in an effort to stop the person or persons from tagging their buildings, before they find themselves in trouble with the law and liable for damages to the person they are protecting themselves as per Susan Clarke’s instruction to take the law into their own hands and is the city going to back up the owners in such cases and pay for damages if awarded the criminal? For instance can they the owner legally:
- Organise citizen groups and restrain with reasonable force those who are responsible for the tagging of buildings in their area?
- Use force to deter would be taggers from tagging their buildings?
- Stun would be taggers with Taser guns?
- Booby trap buildings with traps meant to hurt and deter not kill?
- Set guard dogs on them?
- Pepper spray them?
- Shoot them with live ammo, or salt and pepper?
I guess I want to know from Susan Clarke what are the options for property owners like Lyon Kunin? Kunin Lyon whose Décarie Blvd. hobby shop is costing him a small fortune to keep graffiti free, because every time he removes the graffiti at a cost of $800.oo a pop, within a little while it is re tagged and not long after he gets another warning from the borough for a higher fine because it is his 2nd offense like he is the vandal or criminal. Adding insult to injury, his next door neighbors property also vandalised by graffiti gets a free pass, because Susan Clarke and her scapegoating buddies are only targeting commercial buildings 300 square meters anything smaller is exempt from the dreaded, “Graffiti Inspectors”. So Susan Clarke thinks that if you take the only 300 meter building on the block and force the owner to remove the graffiti and leave all the other smaller buildings with graffiti all over them as they are, that you have improved the look of the area; who voted for this idiot and who will she ever get to vote for her again?
I followed this story since November as the issue ceased to be considered news worthy and coverage of this story died and the owners of buildings being attacked by vandals were abandoned by the press and left to deal with the likes of Susan Clark and her ridiculous law on their own. What I saw was the once called, Motel Raphael and now called the Knights motel, which is now bankrupt and closed, board up all their windows with clean plywood and remove every bit of graffiti that was showing. This motel is completely fenced in, by a 6 foot fence and within a week I watched as the graffiti appeared 1st on just a few walls to its present state of no room for another piece of graffiti. I have to wonder at what point the high and mighty Susan Clark feels that her and the police are not doing their job of protecting the citizens in her area? I think that it is time for a class action law suit from all owners of property who have had their property damaged by vandals because of the lack of police presence and the city and police negligence in handling this situation.
In a time when taxes to the citizens are growing and quality of services are diminishing it is just another arrow in the backs of citizens when they are expected to take the law into their own hands and try to defend themselves and their property against tagging and vandalism, seriously exposing themselves to gang retribution by means of increased tagging, or worse destruction of property, such as broken windows arson, or violent acts against the individual.
What also fascinates me is that the city reserves the right not to pull weeds while fining citizens who do not comply with bylaws instructing them to do so and does holds itself above the law with its graffiti by-laws. There buildings and vacant lots with billboards are some of the worst gang graffiti tagged in the city. It is not the citizens fault that the mayors of the city have had money for, world fairs, Olympic games, botanical gardens, bicycle paths and handouts to a certain bicycle company, but nothing for infrastructure, building inspectors and enough police to make a significant presence to deter vandalism such as tagging and graffiti. I think that Susan Clarke should spend her time and expend her energy on trying to improve the services of Montreal citizens like better police protection than trying to shift the responsibility for policing the city and protecting citizens property to the citizen.
What happens if one of the measures that someone employs to keep their property free of graffiti ends up seriously hurting the perpetrator of the tagging, will the property owner be held responsible and criminally charged? I hear a lot about fines if a tagger is caught, but that money goes to the city while it is the property owner that is out-of-pocket for the continued cost of the clean-up; now that hardly seems fair. In my opinion what Susan Clarke is asking for from her citizens comes close to vigilantism and last time I looked it was against the law to take the law into your own hands, because one is supposed to call the police and they are supposed to do their job and protect every citizen and all property from criminal attack. If there are not enough police to do the job than it is the city’s responsibility to increase the number of police to get the job done.
If mayors would stop trying to leave their personal mark on the city like botanical gardens that are the envy of the world instead of just a nice place to go, or fighting to host every major world event that happens like the Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics and World Fairs, the city might be able to fix our water pipes that flood the streets of our city costing millions of dollars in repairs which the city claims is not their fault. If the mayors of this city and city counselors would stop making every street a bicycle path and investing in failed bicycle companies to the tune of millions of dollars perhaps they could hire enough inspectors to make sure buildings are safe to sit under, bridges and over passes are safe to travel across and pass without the traveler or the diner doing so at their own risk as was suggested by officials about crossing the Champlain Bridge. Finally if mayors of this city and city counselors could stop putting their sticky little fingers in the cookie jar and doing business with the wrong sorts of people and businesses their might just be enough money for things like police protection of the citizens of this city and their property?
My point is this if governments are the are the people that we hire to insure that our tax dollars are put to use to provide us with the things that we need like safety for us and our property than that is what they should do first and stop putting things like infrastructure on the back burner for over 3 decades, for things that although I agree are quite beautiful like the Botanical Gardens, are forgotten as soon as the floods have peoples furniture floating in their basements like in Verdun every time it rains; pedestrians being carried off down the street by rivers of fast running water every time a water main bursts and people dying every time a piece of an overpass, or building falls, due to not enough inspectors to adequately cover every building, bridge, or highway overpass. Susan Clarke should take solace in the fact that if the city can not do its job and protect citizens from graffiti and tagging, that although Graffiti and tagging may look bad there has not bee n one report of either killing anyone. I suggest that Susan Clarke and the rest of the city counselors and mayors turn their attention and political will to the city’s more immediate priorities that have killed innocent Montreal travelers and are still fatal accidents waiting to happen and to this cities failing infrastructure like poor drainage, rotten old water mains and increasing the number of police on the force so that they can do their job and protect the citizens of the city of Montreal.