Graffiti vandalism spotted in Edmonton on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (CTV News Edmonton/Evan Klippenstein)

As graffiti poses a larger and larger issue to Edmonton businesses still on the hook for clean up, councillors are moving to hold taggers more accountable.

A council committee voted Wednesday morning to introduce a $1,000 fine for taggers and enable peace officers to issue those fines.

The change would still need council's approval.

Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson hopes simplified enforcement and the steep fine will deter vandals.

"This is getting away from us again and I think we're going to have to put some focus on slapping it back again," he told council's Community and Public Services Committee. "Because we know if it gets out of hand, if it gets away from you, it's much harder to deal with."

Previously, taggers could be charged with a criminal offence but the process required police involvement.

When the changes were proposed the previous week, Ward 3 Coun. Jon Dziadyk told CTV News Edmonton he wanted to see a fine steep enough to act as a deterrent, but which wasn't "overly onerous."

The $1,000 fine was recommended in a city report as "consistent with other jurisdictions" and other fines set out in the Community Standards and Public Places Bylaw.

A recent audit showed graffiti complaints had increased 48 per cent between 2018 and 2019, and the number of locations targeted with graffiti vandalism had increased 32 per cent between 2015 and 2019.