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DebraW
31-05-2007, 09:39 PM
Bylaw to clean up graffiti proposed

Gordon Kent, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007

Growing amounts of graffiti along Whyte Avenue have the head of a local business group calling on the city to bring in a bylaw forcing people to clean up their property if it's tagged.

"Some will clean it off and do all the time. Others don't," Shirley Lowe, executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association, said Thursday.

"If one property owner allows his property to deteriorate, it affects everyone else."

Last week, someone spray-painted at least a dozen buildings and a decorated utility box in the area, the latest in a long list of attacks Lowe says are defacing the avenue.

"It's a territorial thing, kind of like a dog lifting its leg. It's quite hostile," she said.

"This a high-profile street. With taggers, this is a game, a claim of territory. They photograph it and it goes on their website."

One key to fighting the problem is removing such scrawls quickly, Lowe said. She'd like Edmonton to introduce a bylaw similar to one in Banff, where businesses must eliminate graffiti within two weeks or pay the municipality to do it along with a $75 fine.

"This is an increasing issue from all of the Business Revitalization Zones. We're all very concerned about the graffiti in our areas. Take a look up and down the main corridors of Edmonton. It's just crazy."

Coun. Mike Nickel wants the city to consider hiring or operating a service that companies could pay to get rid of their graffiti if they don't want to do it themselves.

"I think this is about civic beautification and this is something the city can do. If a private guy wants to step up, I'm all for that, but right now, looking at the graffiti, I don't see the niche being filled."

He notices more and more graffiti commuting downtown from his southwest Edmonton home, calling it one of "the classic signs of urban decay."

Although Edmonton doesn't have an anti-graffiti bylaw, a 2005 report indicated 90 per cent of illegal markings on city land visible to drivers was eradicated within 72 hours of a complaint.

Taggers, or people creating graffiti, can be charged with mischief under the Criminal Code. In Calgary, they also face a fine of up to $5,000 under a city bylaw.

Tammy Lepine, manager of the Whyte Avenue Army & Navy store, said they have a firm which every month paints over graffiti on their building, mainly in the alley.

"It just looks better if there's none ... I think it's a problem overall, for everybody."

At the End of Steel Park on 103rd Street and Saskatchewan Drive, vandals have repeatedly struck the caboose displayed by the Old Strathcona Foundation to commemorate the district's railway history. The non-profit group hasn't had enough resources to remove graffiti in four or five years, executive director Karen Tabor said.

They hope to finally sandblast and repaint the car this summer, as well as put up a new information sign, a project that could cost a total of $30,000 to $40,000, she said.

"It's become an eyesore rather than an attraction to visitors."

While she described graffiti as a problem that's getting worse in Old Strathcona, she's wary of a bylaw that would force property owners to clean up, saying small organizations such as the foundation and the many nearby theatre companies probably couldn't afford it.

City grants would help them do the work, she said, adding some people might also be willing to put their mark on a designated graffiti wall and leave private structures alone.

"If you can somehow get the word out that you're hurting the community you want to hang out in, especially with Old Strathcona having historical significance ... when they grow up they will maybe regret what they did."

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24karat
31-05-2007, 10:07 PM
Graffiti vandals when caught should be sentenced to clean up their scribblings. A graffiti vandal in Australia was sentenced to 350 hours of supervised cleanup. We need similar sentences here.

Coco
01-06-2007, 10:39 PM
Graffiti vandals when caught should be sentenced to clean up their scribblings. A graffiti vandal in Australia was sentenced to 350 hours of supervised cleanup. We need similar sentences here.

Yes. And as for those vandals who are caught smashing the glass in bus shelters, phone booths, display windows or cars... they should have to clean up the mess with their bare hands. No broom.