Monday, November 10, 2008
What To Do With Graffiti
A few weeks ago I wrote about the success of council's first 'town hall' meeting. You might remember that the first question posed to council that night was about graffiti... specifically if it was possible to create a program to engage, let's call them "street artists" to produce public murals rather than having them defacing private property.
Well, at this morning's Protective Services Committee meeting there was some follow up on the graffiti issue. Alderman Alex Gustafson has asked to have an item added to the agenda to discuss the issue. Although Alex wasn't there to speak to it we did get some helpful information from administration and asked them to develop a program for our consideration.
Karen Garipey with Community Crime Prevention provided information on the efforts currently underway to reduce the impact of graffiti. The key concept for reducing graffiti is a three point procedure:
Record It - Take a picture of the graffiti as soon as it's identified.
Report It - Report all incidents of damage to your property by calling the local RCMP detachment at 780-830-5700.
Remove It - Remove graffiti from your property as quickly as possible. The faster and more frequently graffiti is cleaned up, the less it appears. If you remove graffiti within 24 Hours - there is a 10% chance it will reappear. But if you wait 2 weeks to remove it there is a 100% chance it will reappear.
The best solution is to remove it immediately whenever it appears. Eventually the vandals will give up.
As a part of the effort to clean up the community Crime Prevention (in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the DownTown Association) have clean up kits available. The kits provide everything a property owner needs to wipe out the graffiti (aside from the paint - you'll have to match your own). They also have a great Idea Book (downloadable PFD here) that includes facts about graffiti, suggestions on how to set up your own graffiti wipe out day, and contact info on where to get the clean up kits. Find out more about the program on the Crime Prevention "Graffiti Wipe-Out" page.
So, the efforts to wipe out graffiti are obviously well underway but that still left the question of how to direct these "creative urges" in a more positive manor. I suggested that what is really needed is a program where the city (in partnership with building owners) specifically sanctions graffiti on certain walls. Hopefully we'd be able to give the "street artists" a place to express themselves while working within some content ground rules. I can't see any harm in at least trying to provide a positive option for those who are currently working on the wrong side of the law. The committee agreed and asked admin to develop a concept for such a program and report back at a future meeting.
Maybe one day we'll be able to help graffiti move past it's current status as vandalism to more of a kind of "urban art". Providing space for it is just one challenge, the next is finding those truly creative artists who have something to say and the skills to say it well.