The Town of Saint Andrews is facing almost $4,000 in expenses to repair vandalism, according to Chris Spear, the town's chief administration officer and treasurer.
A wave of spray paint tagging on traffic signs, garbage cans, park benches, and public and business washrooms, which began in June, has got the town concerned about the cost of continuing to do these repairs due to ongoing acts of vandalism, he said.
Spear said the town "started noticing it here and there [in June], and then it became almost every night something was getting tagged."
The Town of Saint Andrews posted on its Facebook page in mid-July to ask "residents to keep an active eye out" for any sightings of those who may be causing this undesired art on "signs, walls or fences." In the post, the town also asked people to review their security camera footage for any clues.
Spear said the town has tried to clean some tags off with some success, while some have been painted over, and those tags they were unable to remove, they had to get the signs replaced. He also mentioned that the town is trying to get rid of these tags as soon as possible since they can be a distraction for the many tourists who visit Saint Andrews.
Although the frequency has slowed down a bit, Spear said the tags still keep appearing around town, with as many as 20 signs having been vandalized to date. In most cases, the tag is a "fancy signature," he said.
The complaints have been minimal since a town crew has spotted and cleaned the tags before the public can see them, Spear said, but a handful of private property owners have raised concerns. If not controlled, the tagging will reduce the quality of the visitor experience, which is one of the town's strengths, he added.
Spear said the RCMP has been helping through patrols and conducting investigations, while the town itself has rolled out emails to its community contacts to spread awareness to stop the graffiti.
Saint Andrews RCMP Cpl. Jayson Hansen said the tagging incidents have recently been less frequent than earlier, and there have not been any major complaints. However, he said one complaint investigation had to be put on hold after a resident submitted a picture of someone on the King Street wharf but later refused to cooperate by providing more details.
Hansen said tampering with traffic signs can lead to accidents involving serious charges. Officers are notifying the town whenever they spot a tag or require a sign to be fixed, he said, but there isn't an ongoing investigation at this point due to a lack of information.
Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson said there are "probably a lot of big communities that look at Saint Andrews and say, 'Your vandalism isn't that bad,' but you know, you wanna keep your community looking as good as possible.
"When you see multiple, I guess they call them tags, by the same graffiti artist in places where it shouldn't be, it's problematic," he said, "but we are hoping to have a result, very, very soon with the cooperation and, obviously, the leadership from the RCMP which town staff's working with."
Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal