KAMLOOPS - The amount of graffiti tags being cleaned up on a daily basis in Kamloops is roughly equivalent to the entire outside of two 1,000-square-foot homes, including the roofs.
While crews were even out regularly cleaning graffiti-covered surfaces during the winter months this year, the Graffiti Task Force has had to increase the number of crew members working daily since mid-June, when tagging started to increase even more.
Now three crews are working for the task force, cleaning up about 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of graffiti every day. Sometimes they are returning to the same place twice in a week.
Following the incident when a bylaw officer was assaulted at Memorial Arena police are even more involved in graffiti cases. Bouvier also does not let her crew members go out on their own, they must always have a partner with them as a safety measure.
“It’s probably about triple the amount of graffiti this summer. It’s one of the worst years,” Bouvier says. “I can’t even describe how nasty it is. At the skateboard park, I’m getting calls from those kids saying ‘it’s really bad, can you come fix it?’”
As the tagging becomes more grotesque and bold — even large murals and kids’ murals are being defaced — task force director Ronnie Bouvier is hoping the community will start to get more involved.
“I’ve never been so puzzled. There’s a group somewhere doing this,” she says. “It’s just the destruction and disrespect. The mural damage is what really bothers me though. It’s our history.”
Bouvier says people need to take pictures, and get the faces of the taggers, so police can get involved and lay charges.
“It’s legal to take someone’s photo in public,” she notes. “The community needs to observe it… even if you’re not sure, send it to Crime Stoppers and then the RCMP investigates if a real crime occurred.”
She says you don’t need to confront them, just try to get a picture with their face while they are in action. You can then send the photo and any information you have to Crime Stoppers and they will "get it dealt with so fast."
“I’m not sure if people are scared, it is some bizarre stuff,” Bouvier notes, adding, “This is a law being broken. If you saw someone breaking into the house across the street would you not call the police?”
Bouvier says some businesses are putting up barbed wire fences, but the taggers are also hitting Riverside Park and even the Overlanders Bridge quite badly this year. Task force members can’t believe how badly the park is being vandalized with paint.
“Even the Riverside crew is like ‘oh my gawd Ronnie’,” she says. “There’s enough of us, if we open our eyes and are observant we can slow this down. How is no one seeing it?”
The task force has already tripled it’s annual spending on cleaning wipes this year and a group of ‘junior cadets’ in Aberdeen are helping to clean Hydro boxes hit by taggers in the area. B.C. Hydro provides grants every year and will be ordering even more cleaning supplies for the task force because of the rise in tagging.
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