Victoria’s downtown core has seen a drastic increase in tagging, leaving businesses with the bill for graffiti removal.

A tag is a stylized signature that is usually spray-painted illegally on surfaces.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) has Clean Teams that work with members to help remove tags and are able to track them as well.

The number of tags downtown has risen dramatically over the last few years, according to DVBA data.

In 2016, the DVBA says it counted 2,556 tags. That number rose to 6,402 in 2017 before reaching 10,445 tags last year.

“We see tagging as one of the big concerns for our members downtown,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the DVBA. “It impacts the look and feel of downtown. Last year Crime Stoppers estimated the cost in the region is over a million dollars to deal with the problem.”

Bray says that’s a lot of money being spent on vandalism. 

“Many of our members are small independent owner operators and so they’re working 60-70 hours a week and they’re always the last to get paid. So every time they have to go spend fifty dollars on a can of paint that’s fifty dollars out of their pocket," he said.

The DVBA says teams remove tags in an effort to keep the city looking vibrant, safe and welcoming.

Bray told CTV that they know who some of the prolific offenders are, and are working with VicPD to bring charges against them.

“We know that some of the prolific taggers come from middle-class, middle-income homes, they live at home with their parents," he said. "There’s a sense of excitement that they feel in tagging that can become addictive. We also know there is an addiction to the paint. At the end of the day they like to see their name in lights.”

Later this year the DVBA said it would be launching a campaign to work with its members to deal with the ongoing issue.