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New version of old graffiti task force launching in Kamloops

A member of the former Graffiti Task Force in Kamloops is pictured painting in this undated photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Ronnie Bouvier

Ronnie Bouvier is known in Kamloops for her work removing unsightly graffiti around the city with her team of university students and people with disabilities.

The non-profit called the Graffiti Task Force did the job for 12 years up until 2023 when the city awarded the funding to a local paint company instead.

“Instead of funding a non-profit providing employment to university students and athletes they hired a painting company,” Bouvier told iNFOnews.ca. “They never told me directly I wouldn’t be receiving the funding and I wasn’t given the chance to speak to council about what they wanted and what they needed.”

It was a disappointment but it didn’t slow her down in her passion to clean the city. She has been busy quietly putting together another task force called A-1 Graffiti Cleaners.

“We’re hiring people with disabilities to clean up the Telus and BC Hydro units,” she said. “Everybody deserves an opportunity.”

The city decided against renewing the graffiti task force's contract in 2022, aiming to keep the work in-house.

Councillor Dale Bass said it was a staff decision that meant bylaw officers (now Community Service Officers) and the downtown Kamloops CAP team patrol would take care of it instead. She praised the work done by Bouvier and her team and was disappointed to see the contract wasn't renewed.

"Ronnie has a social conscience and she brought that into the staffing," Bass said. 

Among Bouvier's hires, she brought on people with disabilities who might otherwise find it difficult to get work, Bass said. She also supported projects that wouldn't necessarily cover up graffiti, but they would deter people from covering wall space with tags like the mural projects at McArthur Island skatepark.

The task force was having difficulties getting to graffiti outside the city's core areas like the North Shore and downtown, Bass said.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson and Bouvier both said the city has started contracting out the job of cleaning graffiti again, this time to another company.

The city's acting bylaw manager Will Beatty was not immediately available for comment.

A-1 Graffiti Cleaners will be funded with grants once the company gains non-profit status. BC Hydro is funding a summer program and Telus committed to providing some funding up until 2025.

Bouvier is doing a soft launch this weekend with her team starting with painting over graffiti on electrical boxes on Tranquille Road. She plans to have the team out in full force by the middle of April.

“People are reaching out complaining about the increase in graffiti they’re seeing in the city,” she said. "There's so much graffiti and the coverings look terrible, we always paint match and take pride in our work.”

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The A-1 Graffiti Cleaners will be out removing crude drawings and writings on walls, streets and public washrooms, and Bouvier is familiar with the most tagged areas in the city.

“The majority of the tags are done by young people, and it isn’t uncommon for murals and art to be vandalized by graffiti,” she said.

READ MORE: City scraps graphic photos from Kamloops mayor's speech

This year Bouvier is adding a hot and cold power wash system to clean messes off of sidewalks and buildings.

She plans to do what she can to help clean up messes around small businesses.

With files from Levi Landry 


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