KAMLOOPS - The Kamloops Graffiti Task Force has a new weapon in their arsenal which promises to improve their response to the inappropriate things painted around town.
After staff pitched in to take on extra tasks to make some more money on the side, $20,000 was raised to purchase a Tornado ACS, a machine which suctions to the wall and blasts the paint off with particles like crushed walnuts. It removes all types of paint from both water-based and oil-based, spray paints, and even permanent markers.
"What we’re dealing with is not true artistic graffiti; it’s vandalism, it’s out to do damage and scare people. We have a beautiful city, it needs to stay pretty,” executive director Ronnie Bouvier says. "With this machine we can help property owners, business owners and bring the whole city together."
Bouvier says the machine will improve their response by "leaps and bounds."
Kamloops is the first municipality in B.C. to use one of the machines and Bouvier says other anti-grafitti groups are keeping a watchful eye.
“It’s unpredictable how bad (graffiti is) going to be but we don’t want to be painting (over it),” she says.
If all goes according to plan, they won’t have to; the machine will do all the work for them. To Bouvier’s delight and excitement, off-colour painted squares over graffiti will be a thing of the past.
She also hopes to stop contributing to the stack of files of all the things she's seen scrawled about town. Particularly the penis file which contains — you guessed it — all things phallic.
The machine has several components, but can be stored in the back of the task force truck. It can hold a variety of different all natural blasting powders — from ground up glass to crushed walnuts. Bouvier dips a finger in the canister and sticks it in her mouth.
“It even tastes like walnuts,” she says with a smirk.
Each type of material used to blast the paint from the walls is designed for use on a variety of textures, from stone and brick, to wood or concrete. The machine can even remove a fresh tag over a more important piece of artwork like a mural.
Attached to the barrel of the machine is a long hose with a suction head which attaches to the graffitied wall and sprays the powder. Within a minute or two the wall is clean.
The new machine is also a lot more environmentally friendly since paint and chemicals won't be needed.
Before Bouvier took over the task force the city was using toxic paints to try and cover the vandals' tags.
“I saw a lot of oil based paints. A lot of really poisonous cleaners that had probably every warning on them,” she says. Staff would go out on scene with face masks and long rubber gloves.
“My motto is if you can’t have children or dogs around it, don’t use it,” Bouvier says. “It soaks into our natural environment. It’s not anything I would put in my own yard. It was quite a process to find products that still meet our needs but do better."
The machine will make its debut soon and the city already has plans to purchase a second machine.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.