KAMLOOPS - It’s in our parks, on our signs and even adorning every last piece of art in Riverside Park, not to mention the number of fences and retaining walls recently hit with by graffiti.
Ronnie Bouvier, the executive director of the Graffiti Task Force, is outraged by the recent change in the graffiti scene. She says more than 32,000 square-feet of graffiti has already been removed this year and not a single bit of it could be considered art.
“It’s blatant vandalism, destruction,” she says, adding much of it is graphic drawings or comments. “It’s like the stuff we used to see in bathroom walls in high school we’re now seeing in public.”
Bouvier says this is the worst she has seen, noting a 75 per cent increase of graffiti reports on private property over last year. One tagger alone has caused more than $12,000 in damage since mid-March.
In between all the removal of graffiti the task force is trying to educate businesses and property owners on how to make their property ‘safer’ from this type of vandalism through lighting and paint colour. The task force has also worked with younger taggers caught through the restorative justice program. After several meetings four children and their parents came out to repaint under the Overlanders Bridge where the kids were caught tagging.
The task force relies heavily on neighbourhood associations and walking groups to help report and curb graffiti and Bouvier says she believes if everyone works together on the three Rs — record it, report it, remove it — the city can take back control.
However, this is also the first year she does not think there will be enough money in the budget.
“All the art is damaged (at Riverside Park),” Bouvier says of just how bad the damage is this year. “The only way to clean it is with a toothbrush and sheer will power.”
A daycare targeted and left with tags and graphic drawings recently had to use 20 gallons of paint to cover up all the spray paint. Six murals on the North Shore have already been destroyed this year.
Many slides at parks and in tot lots have penises drawn on them and threatening messages were left for city staff and the task force on utility boxes, walls, and signs.
Fire hydrants and even vehicles have also been targeted this year. Bouvier says it seems nothing is off limits to the new group of taggers.
“It’s like there’s no code of ethics anymore,” she says, adding they used to not touch places like daycares or churches.
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