Graffiti Task Force finds new tool to fight tagging

By Chad Klassen
May 30, 2016 - 4:44pm Updated: May 30, 2016 - 9:12pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a problem at every corner of the city — tagging, which has been more apparent in Kamloops this spring.

"In one day, we cleaned up 1,000 tags. That's a lot of work," says Executive Director of the Graffiti Task Force Ronnie Bouvier. 

Five days a week, the task force, consisting mainly of TRU baseball players, removes tags around the city. This year, at one least one of the three crews is at Riverside Park, which has been hit hard. 

"We've been doing Riverside Park five days a week for the last four weeks," says Bouvier. "Even when there's an event here, it still occurs."

But unlike years past, the team now has a new tool at its disposal — a powerwasher that removes tags in seconds after being applied with a special chemical. It's in place of scrubbing them out or simply painting over top them. 

"It's the first year we've tried them and they're great. It just saves so much time. We would've had to paint a whole wall, and instead we're able to take the tag off in about three minutes," says Bouvier. 

For the members working every day to remove the graffiti, many of them just out of high school, it gives them a different perspective.

"The things you see when you're walking around on the routes and in the bathroom, things that they're writing and drawing just don't need to be seen," says one crew member Connor McKenzie.

Another crew member Isiah McDonald says he's "seen some pretty bad stuff, some bad swear words, a couple pictures that don't really need to be there."

But it's rewarding work for all of them. 

"You're cleaning up your hometown streets," notes McKenzie. "You're making your whole city look better, so there's a lot of pride in it."

With the rate at which graffiti goes up in Kamloops, the task force could be working year round. But with only $145,000 of funding every year from the city, and the odd grant, it's hard to do. 

The task force is educating the community to do their part in cleaning up the city. 

If you see a tag, you can call 250-314-0386 with an exact location. Or you can download the myKamloops™ - Civic Reporter and report the tag from your smart phone. 

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