They see a problem and they want to paint it black . . .
They’re not sure why it works, but Kamloops’ Graffiti Task Force has come up with a new strategy that seems to be discouraging taggers — paint it black.
Ronnie Bouvier, executive director of the task face, told city council that changing the colour of electrical boxes in McArthur Island Park from green to black has dramatically reduced the graffiti problem in the area.
“I can’t answer a reason to why they won’t tag on the black, but it’s amazing,” she said during a report this week on the non-profit society’s activities for the year.
“At beginning of year, Mac Island was our worst park. At the end of the year, Mac Island is our best park.”
The task force has had similar luck with a couple other problem spots.
Painting the light-coloured doors of Brock Arena a dark shade of blue and painting park benches brown has also reduced tagging.
But, that has still left plenty of graffiti for the task force to clean up.
By the end of September, task force staff had removed more than 150,000 square feet of graffiti, compared to the 100,000 square feet they dealt with in all of 2011.
Of that, the majority of the vandalism took place in city parks, which accounted for 94,000 square feet of this year’s total.
Another 41,000 square feet of graffiti was removed from other city property.
Tagging on private property accounted for less than 9,000 square feet.
“Of all of this tagging, 97 [per cent] is vulgarity, profanity,” she said, referring to dirty words, racial slurs and threats.
“We really haven’t seen any art.”
Bouvier said the jump in numbers has less to do with tagger activity than from a staffing increase.
This year, the task force has two crews working instead of one, made up of members from the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack baseball team.
With more bodies, the task force has been able to clean up new areas of the city, in some cases covering up tags that were four years old.
The group is also looking at prevention strategies, including anti-graffiti coatings and murals.
While Bouvier said some Kamloops taggers will still vandalize artwork, she thinks murals could at least reduce graffiti in major problem areas.
Potential mural locations include the Salvation Army on Tranquille Road and McArthur Island Park.