Frequently Asked Questions (Enforcement)
Acts of graffiti vandalism escalating in Okotoks
08-17-2022: In recent weeks, the Town has seen an unfortunate escalation of graffiti vandalism on both public and private property, including high incidents of profanity and racial slurs.
Graffiti vandalism is the most visible and prominent crime in a neighbourhood, making it appear unsafe. Any figures, stickers, letters, or drawings that are applied, scribbled, scratched, etched, sprayed or attached to the surface of any premises, structure or other property is considered graffiti vandalism and is a violation of Community Standards Bylaw 19-10. If convicted, offenders could be sentenced to a fine of up to $2,500 per incident for adults and $1,000 for youth. Offences including multiple tags could result in multiple charges. Offenders do not need to be caught in the act of vandalism to be charged.
All citizens are encouraged to call Okotoks Municipal Enforcement at 403.938.8913 to report graffiti spotted on public and private property. If suspicious activity or graffiti vandalism is in progress, please call 911 and do not engage with the offenders.
Scroll down for more tips about reporting and removing graffiti.
Have questions about pet licensing, animals at large, dogs off leash, or other responsible pet ownership regulations? Visit the Animal Safety and Dog Licensing page.
Leaving a vehicle parked on the roadway for an extended period of time hinders road maintenance efforts by the Town or may cause neighbors to report the vehicle as abandoned.
The Alberta Traffic Safety Act defines an abandoned vehicle as one that has been parked on a roadway without moving for more than 72 hours. Municipal Enforcement Officers attempt to contact the owner of the vehicle to provide them with the opportunity to move it; however, under certain circumstances, the vehicle could be deemed illegally parked and may be ticketed and/or towed.
The Land Use Bylaw requires off street parking at every residence in Okotoks and owners are encouraged to park vehicles in these spots especially vehicles that are not used frequently. While away on vacation, it is also recommended to park off street, but if this is not possible, leave a set of keys with a family member or a neighbor so they can move the vehicle if necessary.
For further information regarding on street parking, please contact the Municipal Enforcement Inquiry Line at 403-995-6302.
No, recreation vehicles may only be parked on the front driveway for a period of up to 72 hours for loading and unloading and must be parallel to the sides of the driveway, cannot encroach onto the sidewalk, curb or roadway, and must not create a hazard for pedestrians or motorists. Recreation vehicles may be stored on private property at any location other than in a front or side yard adjacent to a roadway (i.e. a back yard).
Yes, recreation vehicles may be parked on the street for a period of up to 72 hours (to load and unload) after which they must be removed for a minimum period of 48 hours. Any trailer parked on the street must be attached to a vehicle at all times.
Yes, to cross a boulevard or any other landscaped public lands to access your private property (back yard), you must obtain an Open Space and Rights of Way Access Permit by completing the Park Access Permit Form.
*Permit fees do apply.
A “recreation vehicle” is a vehicle or trailer that is designed, constructed and equipped, either temporarily or permanently, as an accommodation for travel, vacation, or recreational use, whether licensed or unlicensed, and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- travel trailers/tent trailers
- motorized homes & conversions
- slide-in camper
- chassis-mounted camper
- all-terrain vehicle
- utility trailer
No, any vehicle (including trailers or other vehicles) are not allowed to park in any back alley or laneway.
Yes, it is prohibited for construction in progress to create a noise or disturbance which can be heard in a residential building before 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday or before 9 a.m. on Sundays or holidays, or after 10 p.m. any day.
As a resident of Okotoks, you have rights regarding your private property and responsibilities while using public property.
Yes, every owner or occupant of property must control all weeds and grass on the premises including the boulevard adjoining the property as well as up to the center of the alley or lane at the rear of the premises. Grass shall be cut so as not to grow to such a height that it would be considered unsightly in comparison to adjacent or surrounding yards with the exception of “natural” grasses used in xeriscape yards.
Yes, the owner or any other person in charge of the property shall remove as soon as possible, or within 24 hours, all snow, ice, dirt or debris and other obstructions from the public sidewalk adjoining the premises owned or occupied by them.
The Town and the community takes pride in its numerous parks, extensive pathway system, beautiful architecture and thriving business district. However, graffiti decreases the town’s aesthetic appeal and diminishes the sense of security and pride in our community. When graffiti is not removed, it attracts more graffiti and other forms of vandalism and crime.
If your property has graffiti you can contact Okotoks Municipal Enforcement Services at 403-938-8913 and have a Peace Officer attend to document the graffiti. They will take a report and photograph the graffiti. This information is put in the Okotoks Municipal Enforcement database for investigation and tracking purposes. You can also take a digital photo of the graffiti and drop it off at the Southridge Emergency Services Building.
- Report existing graffiti by phoning Municipal Enforcement at 403-938-8913.
- If you see graffiti being applied, it is a crime in progress. Call 9-1-1 immediately to report it.
- The quick removal of graffiti is the most effective means to prevent further acts of vandalism, so property owners should remove graffiti within 24 hours after it appears. This will prevent the offender from receiving the fame and recognition they desire when other taggers see their “Tag” and reduce the likelihood that it will spread.
- Volunteer your time, donate supplies, or help in any way you can to eliminate graffiti in your community.
- Get organized! Form a neighbourhood graffiti removal crew. Involve young people in the clean up.
- Adopt a street, park, school, church, or business that is a target for graffiti vandalism. In addition to removing graffiti, consider planting trees, bushes or flowers that may deter graffiti.
- Have a neighbourhood meeting on graffiti vandalism to discuss the effects: on victims, costs and possible solutions.
- Report existing graffiti by phoning Municipal Enforcement at 403-938-8913.
Generally, graffiti can be defined as the defacing of public or private property by painting, drawing, writing, etching, carving or adding stickers to objects without the property owner’s permission.
The offence under Mischief found in the Criminal code of Canada gives police the power to lay charges for graffiti related incidents.
The word Graffiti comes from the archeological term for Graffito which is defined as ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface. Graffiti has gone through many changes throughout history, from the caveman’s drawings on the walls, to markings on ancient Greek pottery.
Graffiti has evolved from occasional writing on the bathroom walls and back alleys to a group of persons who seek to gain notoriety and recognition by marking buildings and any object that presents a canvas for their markings.
Okotoks parks are the most common targets for graffiti, including Sheep River Park, Howard Park, Wylie Athletic Park, Ethel Tucker Park and the Okotoks Skateboard Park. Most graffiti incidents are limited to the inside of public washrooms and under the cover of night which makes it extremely difficult to find the offenders and prosecute them. The majority of graffiti incidents reported have no known suspects or witnesses and are discovered in the early morning hours.
Utility boxes throughout Okotoks have also become a favourite target for graffiti vandalism. The utility boxes that have been tagged seem to be in high pedestrian traffic areas within close proximity to the pathway systems, parks, convenience stores and schools.
Some tags throughout Okotoks turn up on a more frequent basis, but unfortunately not in distinct traceable patterns or locations. Most of these tags are written with graffiti markers or Jumbo Jiffy markers, which take seconds to write.
The Parks teams are diligent in cleaning up graffiti vandalism on Town property and utility boxes. Through partnerships and initiatives set out by Okotoks Municipal Enforcement, the goal is to limit and control the amount of graffiti vandalism within our community.
Graffiti is more than just words or symbols that are sprayed or painted on a surface. Graffiti is an act of vandalism that costs thousands of dollars every year to remove or cover up. Every dollar spent on eradicating graffiti is a dollar that could be more appropriately used on other programs.
Areas filled with graffiti are less appealing to those who may be looking to buy or rent property. Property becomes more difficult to sell and property values are reduced. If not immediately removed, graffiti sends out a message that “nobody cares “about the area. It also causes the area to look unsafe and makes people concerned about their personal well being.
Graffiti creates on open invitation for more littering, loitering and additional graffiti. Unfortunately, it may also lead to an increase in other crimes and acts of violence.
The Broken Window Theory supports that if a broken window in a building is left unrepaired, the other windows will eventually also be broken.
An experiment to test this theory was performed by Wilson and Kelling (1982), where a car was abandoned in two neighbourhoods – one respectable and the other run down. In both of the neighbourhoods, the car was vandalized, showing that vandalism can occur anywhere once informal social controls are lowered by signals that nobody cares.
The authors also suggests that untended behaviour can lead to breakdown of community controls (i.e. if a place is left untended, weeds will grow, windows may be smashed, young people will congregate, public drinking may occur, etc.).
This breakdown may not lead to increased levels of crime; however, it will lead to increases in residents’ perceptions of crime. The levels of disorder will lead them to assume that crime, especially violent crime, is rising, and making them feel less secure and more fearful. The suggested result of this is that people will avoid using the streets, pathway systems and have less contact with others, thus reducing community bonds, and instilling individual’s isolation.
The result of this is that these environments also make a neighbourhood more vulnerable to crime. This shows how graffiti can contribute to the overall problems and perceptions of crime in a community.
Gender: The large majority of taggers are male, with females most often associated to Bubble gum graffiti and more interested in having their name involved in the graffiti.
Age: For tagging the age ranges are 10‐24 years. Most taggers get their beginning from school exposure to the sub‐culture and will tag their school before tagging other locations as they develop; those in their 20’s are often a developed tagger preferring rail cars and walls that offer a canvas for their work.
Background: Taggers generally do not reflect any specific socio‐economic or racial background but most Hip Hop taggers are from Middle to Upper class families. They will usually be linked with skateboarding, BMX biking, marijuana and Hip Hop Music.
How to spot a tagger:
- Clothing is baggie and loose. Baggie sweatshirts with hoods and baseball hats often covered in paint.
- Pants with pockets for felt markers.
- Backpack full of spray paints and graffiti tools.
- Out late at night and early morning. Taggers work mostly under cover of darkness, dusk to dawn.
- Graffiti / Doodling on personal items, school books, skateboards, under brim of their baseball hat, etc.
- Graffiti and Hip Hop posters up in their room and reads graffiti magazines.
- Have a wide variation of markers for graffiti and “Hello my name is” or postal stickers and spray paint.
- Multiple spray can heads, Caps, Fat, Skinny refer to interchangeable spray can nozzles to allow for various spray width and coverage.
- Has a sketchbook (Piece book) for practice.
- Schoolbooks have repetitive scrawling, graffiti and/or cartoon like drawings on them.
- Racking, the graffiti term for stealing spray paint, markers and other graffiti tools/supplies.
- Carries camera and photographs graffiti.
- Uses the internet to access pro graffiti websites and post on forum sites and communicate with other taggers. Often they use school computers to do this.
Fame within the graffiti sub‐culture, a means of expressing their opinions, attitudes, emotions and doing this outside the norm comprising of 4 main elements:
- Low self esteem
- Peer recognition
- For recognition, a distorted view of fame
- See graffiti in the community and want to try it
- A way to rebel against authority
- To get out their aggression
- Some are very talented artistically and this is their way to express themselves and develop and practice their ability
- Some think they are artistic
- Becomes an obsessive‐compulsive disorder. They are addicted to "Getting Up" which is tagging throughout the community, as well as to paints, markers and tagging