Graffiti task force looking at record year
Graffiti is not art, it’s vandalism.
That’s the message from the organization charged with erasing graffiti around the Tournament Capital.
It’s looking like a record year for cleaning graffiti in Kamloops.
Through October, the city’s graffiti task force has cleaned up markings from more than 100,000 square feet of city and private property.
During the summer, the task force noted much of the tagging at the time was more crude, profane and amateurish.
In the last few months, that has changed.
Task force executive director Ronnie Bouvier believes a handful of prolific taggers have returned.
“Now we have some taggers back with the hopes they’re going to slap their tag up and it will be there all winter,” she said, adding it appears to coincide with the return of the fall school semester, suggesting the taggers could be older university students.
Bouvier noted the graffiti is everywhere, in neighbourhoods from Aberdeen to Valleyview to Westsyde.
Taggers have also taken to vandalizing real works of art and murals around the community.
“There seems to be no respect,” Bouvier said.
Typically, the cold weather tends to stymie the taggers, but that hasn’t happened this winter.
Bouvier said the task force has never been busier than in the last two weeks.
“It’s cold out and you would anticipate that would slow them down, but it’s not,” she said.
In September, a tagger was convicted in bylaw court of two counts of graffiti vandalism and was fined $500 for each count.
He was also prohibited from possessing graffiti-making tools, such as paints and markers, for six months and must submit to a search of his personal belongings upon demand by RCMP.
Bouvier said it’s too early to tell if the court ruling has had an effect on other taggers, but she’s hoping a few more vandals will face the courts in 2012.
Last year, the task force removed more than 100,000 square feet of graffiti from city and private property.
In 2009, it cleaned up 125,245 square feet of graffiti, which was a record amount.
In 2008, the task force topped the 100,000-square-foot mark for the first time.
Prior to 2008, a typical year would see between 50,000 and 85,000 square feet of graffiti erased.
The non-profit society, formed in 2002, receives an annual budget from the city of $110,000 and charges a fee to businesses and private-property owners who want graffiti removed.