Cleanup crews struggle to keep up with city's graffiti

By Vanessa Ybarra
April 6, 2017 - 6:00pm Updated: April 20, 2017 - 9:00am

KAMLOOPS — It's an issue almost every city has to deal with.

Graffiti.

While the Kamloops Graffiti Task Force receives $145-thousand  a year from the city to clean up the tags that pop up around town, keeping on top of the epidemic has become increasingly difficult.

"Sadly we clean up the washrooms at Riverside Park by the tennis courts often," said Ronnie Bouvier, Executive Director of the Kamloops Graffiti Task Force.  

"I can be here in the morning, and by 1 o'clock in the afternoon it has to be done again." 

'It' being graffiti. Lots and lots of graffiti. 

According to Bouvier, this past winter and spring has been one of the worst for graffiti in the city.

"There used to be a code when I started that you don't tag or destroy other people's art or murals, " said Bouvier. "You don't do churches, senior centres, public schools and daycares.Every one of those has been vandalized this year. Some of the destruction is just crazy written words that aren't very logical. The main thing is it's just a lack of respect." 

Riverside Park, the McArthur Island Skate Park and a wall off Saint Paul Street are just some of the places that have become a magnet for the bold markings.

While the city doesn't allow security cameras outside park washrooms, Bouvier says even if it was allowed it wouldn't do much good. 

"The key is the camera has to catch the graffiti in action, they have to be identifiable and they're usually not."

The advice on the best way to combat graffiti and tagging varies throughout the city

One woman recommended the city have a public space where people can display their 'art'. with another man saying those caught vandalizing the city should have to clean it up themselves.

Like most cities, there's no clear way in how best to combat the issue of graffiti, however there is something cleanup crews are doing besides scrubbing and painting.

"We take photos of what we find and I classify it as vandalism," said Bouvier. "We track time, date and location, then I hand that file over to the RCMP. As it stands we have four people identified."

While the task force also working with the RCMP on ways to increase neighborhood monitoring, Bouvier says it's up to the community to grab a brush if they want to see change.

"If walkers or jogger want to help out, give me a call, I will certainly train you in how to do it," said Bouvier. "It's easy, and you can help get to locations we just can't get to right now." 

As for Bouvier, it's one wall down, ten to go.  

The task force is holding a rivers trail clean-up near the end of April.

For more information or to become a member of the graffiti task force, visit Kamloops Graffiti Task Force Society on Facebook. 

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