GRAFFITI STILL A PROBLEM IN KAMLOOPS
KAMLOOPS – There may be less graffiti in 2013 than 2012, but vulgar messages still dominate tags city crews have been busy removing this year.
Ronnie Bouvier, the Executive Director of the Graffiti Task Force, says obscenities made up 95 per cent of all tags in 2012 and 2013 has been much the same. This summer Bouvier says much of the vulgarity was rude sayings, threats to each other, profanity and put downs. It hasn't been art in any sense of the word.
“We have a lot more vandals writing vulgarity, a lot of immature stuff, no art to any of this. It takes very little talent to write a nasty message about someone,” Bouvier says. “We classify it as vandalism.”
Not only is much of the graffiti out there vulgar, it also requires some editing.
“Graffiti doesn't come with a spell check,” Bouvier says while talking about the bad spelling found at many sites, including one that had a crude painting of a large penis with the phrase 'suck my pencil.'
Another piece of graffiti took three rounds of editing before the taggers figured out the 'k' should be a 'c' in one of the key words. Bouvier couldn't even say the word, she found it so offensive, though the lack of proper spelling does leave her chuckling.
Bouvier says a big problem right now is the taggers that are so proud of their work they take to Facebook and Instagram to share their latest tag. One page brought to her attention shows a 10-year-old girl tagging a sign in Peterson Creek with the caption 'my daughter madi, age 10 all ready to hit up the streets alongside her dad.'
By the end of the summer 123,000 square feet of this graffiti had already been removed from surfaces around the city and fall is looking busy as well. Bouvier hopes to stay under 145,000 square feet this year, that would put the amount well below the total of 165,000 square feet last year.
People and businesses are starting to realize that graffiti cleanup is outside of the services provided by the city and are taking responsibility for removing graffiti on their property, which has helped clean up the problem.
According to Bouvier the three Rs of graffiti need to be observed to help curb the problem — record it, report it, remove it.
Several neighbourhood associations have also touched base with the task force in an effort to clean up graffiti and two youth groups took part in helping to get rid of graffiti this year. Help from the Kia Day of Caring and the Communities in Bloom committee also helped in the eradication of graffiti in the city.
That was a main goal for 2013, to educate neighbourhoods and businesses about graffiti. Bouvier says the group has had great success getting North Shore businesses to report graffiti and quickly having it removed. The hope is to get more buy-in from the Downtown community in 2014.
The task force is a small non-profit society that has partnered with the city and several other companies to remove graffiti on city property, street equipment and buildings all months of the year. Sponsorship from Telus, B.C. Hydro and Canada Post help cover some of the costs, as does a contract with Lansdowne Village Mall. The society also offers fee for service on private property where time and volunteer or staff hours allow.
Bouvier says they do receive a $145,000 grant from the city to take care of city property. Her staff consists of some Thompson Rivers University students that often end up volunteering their time because funds are low.
To contact a reporter for this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.