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The City of Toronto’s Graffiti Management Plan is a proactive and cooperative approach to managing graffiti vandalism in the public realm while continuously supporting graffiti and street art that adds artistic vibrancy to Toronto’s streets. The Graffiti Management Plan contains four strategic elements.
- Establishing a coordinating body for graffiti management activities.
- Support and recognition for permitted graffiti and street art, including investment in programming that encourages the development of local artistic talent.
- Support for victims of graffiti vandalism.
- Ongoing enforcement against illegal tagging.
Research and experience have provided evidence that success in realizing the plan and achieving continuous improvement is dependent on the simultaneous implementation of all four parts of the plan, including establishing new programs to meet evolving needs.
If you find graffiti vandalism on your property, or receive a Notice of Violation from Municipal Licensing & Standards, it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove it. You can either do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
You may also commission an artist to create a mural or graffiti art on your property which can help prevent ongoing graffiti vandalism. You may be eligible to receive funding from StreetARToronto to help create a mural for your property.
Graffiti vandalism creates a nuisance that can adversely affect property values, business opportunities and poses a risk to the health, safety and welfare of a community.
- If you are witnessing graffiti vandalism in progress, please call 911
- If you see Graffiti on City or private property, please report it. Call 311 or report it online
- To report hate or gang-related graffiti, call Toronto Police Services at 416-808-2222
The most important step to take in order to keep graffiti vandalism off of your property is to be vigilant and remove graffiti as soon as possible. The faster graffiti vandalism is removed the less likely it will reoccur. The longer graffiti stays on your property the harder it becomes to remove and the more additional graffiti vandalism it attracts.
One of the most effective ways to deter graffiti vandalism is to work with an artist to install a mural or graffiti art. In cases where a mural is not an appropriate solution, the below tips may assist in preventing ongoing vandalism.
- Increase security around your property by restricting access to buildings and structures, such as fences, storage boxes.
- Paint surfaces in dark colours.
- Protect your walls with a protective coating to ease removal efforts.
- Plant climbing vines or thorny plants along building wall.
- Install security cameras.
It can be difficult and frustrating to remove graffiti vandalism from your property. In general, removing graffiti vandalism involves the use of a cleaning agent and some patience. Attempt to remove graffiti as soon as possible, within 24 to 72 hours.
Determine the porosity of the surface (masonry surfaces being the most porous, painted metal/vinyl surfaces the least).For very porous surfaces, a cleaning agent should be allowed to sink in to the surface and be agitated (with steel wool or a wire brush) while sinking in.
For less porous surfaces, remove the cleaning agent quickly with a cloth so as not to damage the existing finish.
There are several different removal 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 Make sure that the removal method chosen is completed safely and that it will not cause damage to the structure, to the environment or to you.
If your building has been designated as a Heritage structure, removing graffiti can be a delicate task. For more information contact City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services.
Removal Tips for Specific Surface Types
Metal and masonry surfaces
- Power-wash with a pressure washer
- Paint over the graffiti
- 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
- Try wiping graffiti with a light, penetrating oil. Do not use paint thinners as they can soften the plastic and can cause clouding on clear plastic or permanent tackiness of the surface
- If this does not remove the graffiti, you may need paint over it
- Scrape it off. Use a razor blade in a holder and scrape at a 30 degree angle to the glass
- If the paint does not come off completely after using the razor blade, use ultra-fine bronze wool with water to gently rub the remaining paint off
City of Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 485, Graffiti, reflects the Graffiti Management Plan and and includes exemptions for Graffiti art which is a legal and acceptable form of street art and is differentiated from graffiti vandalism which is generally characterized by a lack of permission from the property owner.