Former senator Herb Sparrow is speaking out for senior citizens who are victims of crime.
Recently, Sparrow unsuccessfully appealed an order from the City of North Battleford to have the graffiti on his property removed. He says his stance isn't just about the graffiti on his property, but about how the City is dealing with the problem as a whole.
"My issue is not my garage, but the lack of common sense portrayed by the City," said Sparrow.
Sparrow said graffiti is rampant in the city, and doesn't feel the problem is being adequately addressed by city council.
"The only answer the City comes up with is to force the homeowner to pay the costs of removing it and thinking that will stop the problem," he said.
Sparrow further explained cleaning up graffiti can be costly, especially if it's recurring, and it's also difficult for senior citizens to remove or to find someone who will remove the graffiti. He added people pay taxes for a certain amount of protection from the City - protection they're not getting.
"Why are they penalizing the victim without doing the necessary police work to try and apprehend those people putting graffiti on the buildings?" he asked.
"It's absolutely not fair to senior citizens."
Mayor Ian Hamilton said he has sympathy for those who have been the victims of vandals, but said property owners still have a responsibility to maintain their properties.
"It's a requirement to keep your property neat and clean," he said.
He added prompt removal of graffiti often discourages vandals from vandalizing the same property again, because they know it will be in vain.
"The quicker you eradicate graffiti, the less likely it will be repeated," said Hamilton.
Sparrow said he thought this was hypocritical, as there is graffiti on a number of City property that has not been removed within the time they are giving homeowners to remove graffiti, notably on the Civic Centre, skate park and dumpsters.
He also said it was futile, pointing to the example of the skate park, which is covered with graffiti within days of being cleaned.
Hamilton said he would look into the matter and ask that a report be made on what the City has done to remove graffiti in these areas.
Sparrow wondered how bylaw officers have the authority to determine what is art or tasteful and what isn't, citing the example of the graffiti mural on Freedom Skateboards and Snowboards and other businesses.
Hamilton said this is a largely a matter of whether or not the "art" was commissioned and whether it is in good taste or not.
"I think if we apply some common sense, we know the difference," said Hamilton, who said he would have bylaw officers take a look at some of the businesses, such as Northern Pawn Shop, to see if they are up to standards.
Sparrow also said the emphasis on graffiti portrays a skewed set of priorities.
"The idea is that tourists see this graffiti and are not happy with it, but what about the poor senior citizen who has it put on their property and has to remove it?" he argued.
Sparrow said the graffiti issue is part of a bigger problem, that the City spends large amounts of money on grants for organizations and big-ticket items such as the CUPlex, but does little for seniors. He pointed to the example of snow removal, which is difficult for seniors. At one point, Sparrow said, the City used to clear the sidewalks, and now that they've discontinued this service, there aren't any options for seniors, even if they are looking to pay someone to do it for them.