Graffiti & vandalism

City Council has identified graffiti as a growing problem in the community and has taken the lead in graffiti prevention and removal. Westmount Public Safety Department offers a free year-round graffiti removal service. In addition, due to a dramatic increase in reports of vandalism, graffiti and substance abuse infractions in municipal parks, the City has instituted a curfew in all municipal parks. Parks are now closed to the public nightly from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Violators are subject to a minimum fine of $75. Westmount has also increased the frequency of patrols throughout the City.

Graffiti is not just words and symbols sprayed on various surfaces. Graffiti is an act of vandalism that costs the City of Westmount thousands of dollars to clean up every year.

If not immediately removed, graffiti can send the message that “nobody cares”. It can also cause areas to look unsafe, as well as create an open invitation for other graffiti.

Individuals involved in drawing graffiti refer to themselves as “taggers”. They gain status from other taggers by painting their distinctive “tags” in as many places as possible.

What is scratchitti?

Scratchitti is the term that has been coined to describe the form of graffiti that is made by etching or carving “tags” on surfaces, instead of using marker ink or spray paint. Most commonly, scratchitti is found on glass, plexiglass, vinyl and metal surfaces.

Due to the high costs of removal and replacement or refabrication of scratched surfaces, they often remain in place. Although technological processes are being developed, very little can currently be done to remove scratchitti.

Minimizing graffiti on your business or home property begins with keeping the property clean and well maintained. Fencing, increased lighting, and motion sensor lighting all contribute to reducing crime, including graffiti. Additionally:

  • On exposed walls, use clinging vegetation, like ivy, to eliminate large writing surfaces;
  • Consider painting building surfaces in dark colours, or applying a protective anti-graffiti coating;
  • Have a neighbourhood meeting to discuss solutions. Adopt a street, park, school, church, or business that is a target for graffiti. Involve young people in the cleanup.

To report incidents of graffiti on public or private property in Westmount, please phone the Public Safety Department.

Public Safety Department | 21, Stanton Street | 514 989-5222

The City offers a free year-round graffiti removal service.

  • If your property has been tagged with graffiti, rapid removal, notably within 24 to 48 hours, will reduce the chance of being “tagged” again.
  • If you opt to avail yourself of the City’s free year-round graffiti removal service, you should fill out the Graffiti Removal Online Form, as soon as possible.
  • Alternatively, you may choose to remove the graffiti on your own, in which case you will first have to determine the porosity of the surface in your selection of cleaning agents.

Public Safety Department | 21, Stanton Street | 514 989-5222

In determining the porosity of the surface you wish to clean, keep in mind that masonry surfaces and wood are the most porous, while painted metal, glass and vinyl surfaces are the least porous.

  • For very porous surfaces the cleaning agent should be allowed to sink into the surface and be agitated with a steel or wire brush, while sinking in.
  • For less porous surfaces, the cleaning agent may not be allowed to soak in and should therefore be removed with a cloth, so as not to damage the existing finish.

There are several different products available that can be used on their own or with a power washer. Be sure to research the product to ensure that it is suitable for the intended application.

When painting over graffiti, be sure to obtain the right type of paint for the location and type of surface you are painting.

Make sure that the method chosen is done safely and that it will not cause damage to the structure, to the environment or to you.

Once new paint is on, you might consider using a “sealer” or “protectant”. These types of products seal the small surface pores and prevent graffiti’s ability to adhere. Also, once sealed, new graffiti is less work to remove.

Consult your local lumber store for additional Information on graffiti removal products.

Types of surfaces and how to clean them:

When using solvents, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and to test a small area first.

Brick, stucco, cement and concrete
  • Use paint remover, allowing enough time activate;
  • Rinse with a high pressure water hose or pressure washer;
  • Painting over surface might be needed;
  • Consider using a sealer after removal to close pores and make future removal easier.
Glass or Plexiglass
  • Use a razor blade to scrape away cured paint;
  • For other marks use solvents that are not acetone, silicone spray or lacquer thinner, as they can attack the surface causing it to fog or smear;
  • Use a clean rag over the graffiti to let the solvent work;
  • Rinse thoroughly with water.
Fiberglass
  • Use full-strength paint remover;
  • Be aware that acetone-based solvents will soften plastics;
  • Use a clean rag over the graffiti to let the solvent work;
  • Rinse thoroughly with water.
Metal
  • Be aware that some polished aluminum surfaces will cloud or oxidize with aggressive cleaners like lacquer thinner;
  • On unpainted metal surface, solvents such as paint remover can be used;
  • Use a clean rag over the graffiti to let the solvent work;
  • Rinse thoroughly with water.
Aluminum/Vinyl Siding
  • Be aware that vinyl siding is made of plastic, which can be marred by lacquer thinner-type cleaners. Solvents may work too aggressively and remove the coating as well;
  • Use paint remover sparingly and carefully;
Wood
  • Most thinners will remove magic markers and acetone will remove day old spray paint;
  • If the wood is not weathered and is sealed with paint, stain or sealer, remove it by wiping it with mineral spirits;
  • Power wash it with a pressure washer.
  • Owner (mailing address)

  • Owner's representative (if applicable)

  • The owner hereby authorizes the representatives of the City of Westmount and its designated contractor to enter onto its property at the above-mentioned property address, for the purpose of removing, cleaning up or masking any graffiti on the property presently visible from the street, and to do so again in the event of a subsequent appearance of graffiti on the said property. The cost of the work carried out and the products used (except where the paint is provided by the owner) shall be paid in full by the City of Westmount. The contractor has no obligation of results. Furthermore, the owner is hereby advised that the work may leave traces, lines or other marks on the surfaces that have been treated.