graffiti gripe

One of the best things about living in Bells Corners is how tidy and graffiti-free it is. Visit Montreal, Toronto, the States, Mexico, Europe, or most other big cities in the world, and you’ll realize how pristine our Bells Corners village is – amazingly few examples of ugly tags and graffiti vandalism.

But let’s not get complacent. We still need to make an effort, be it a Clean-Up-the Corners campaign or an anti-war litter-picking parade.

$50G TO LET PUNKS PAINT reads the headline in Thursday’s Sun.

Unfortunately, painting punks ARE a problem. But I say – spend the $50G!

The 126 youths who were involved in the Paint It Up project are part of the solution, not part of the problem. They are definitely NOT punks!

Graffiti art can, given the right circumstances, make a community much more vibrant.

Last summer some angry teens thought that it would be cool to spraypaint an enormous phallus on the asphalt near the children’s playstructure in Lynwood Park.

Other rebellious youth got their giggles by tagging the community building with adolescent inanities.

Should the taxpayer be on the hook for cleaning up after these hosers? The City spends over a million bucks annually to clean up graffiti in public space, up from $600,000 in 2007 – is it worth it?

I vote yes – when you call 311 to report graffiti, the City’s contractors show up right away to get rid of it, even more quickly if the graffiti is offensive. The phallus was gone within hours of my call.

The alternative (cleaning it up ‘one of these days’ or just letting it slide) will just encourage other irresponsible graffiti enthusiasts to lift their legs and have a pee. Better to spend now to keep a lid on the problem and avoid spending a lot later, or worse, just giving up and letting the vandals have their way.

It’s expensive though – there were 2,911 incidents reported to 311 last year, with 204 considered ‘offensive’ and 58 considered ‘hate.’ I don’t have the numbers for Bells Corners but College ward was above average for the city, with 155 calls about graffiti vandalism on public property, 11 of them ‘offensive’ and three ‘hate.’

Given the huge expense, some councillors are crabbing about the $50,000 spent on the Paint It Up program, run by Crime Prevention Ottawa, which pays “punks” (as the Sun headline calls them) to beautify the community with artistic murals while giving graffiti artists an outlet for their talents.

Money well spent, in my opinion. Citizen graffiti artists have a lot to contribute to our quality of life when working in partnership with the community.

Graffiti can be a GOOD thing!

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