Constables Mark Smith

Constables Mark Smith

Nanaimo RCMP host annual graffiti cleanup

NANAIMO – Graffiti costs rose last year after steady declines since 2008.

The Nanaimo Graffiti Task Force will host its annual spring cleaning of graffiti tags that have cropped up on utility poles, fences, public buildings and mailboxes around town.

Const. Mark Smith, who heads the task force, said unlike some cities, tags in Nanaimo don’t represent gang activity. They’re mostly scribbled by teenagers, but tags make people uneasy, are expensive to clean up and are property damage, not art.

The key, Smith said, is to report graffiti to police and clean it up as quickly as possible.

Consistent tag removal efforts caused a decline in annual clean-up costs from a high in 2008 of $116,000 to just over $47,000 in 2012. In 2013 costs jumped back up to almost $66,000.

“If you’re an artist, you’re an artist. There’s venue for that,” Smith said. “If you’re a graffiti tagger you’re not looking for [art] venues and that’s the subculture I’m trying to … I wouldn’t say, ‘eradicate,’ but keep the weeds down.”

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the biggest crime issue for most residents he meets at Block Watch meetings, after break-ins, is graffiti.

“It comes up at every talk,” O’Brien said. “It’s unsettling, they don’t know who’s doing it, they feel that their community is being taken over by these vandals, by these people who are going to proceed into gang activity. It’s a little bit of fear of the unknown, but it’s extremely unsettling for them and they really get scared.”

Why not give graffiti artists a public space to express themselves as has been done in some cities, asks Nanaimo artist Yvonne Vander Kooi.

“I think there’s all kinds of forms of graffiti, the lowest form being tagging, which has no artistry connected to it,” Vander Kooi said.

Vander Kooi sees higher forms of graffiti and urban art as a challenge to monopolization of public space by corporate advertisers.

“They aren’t the only ones that own public space and we have messages and images to share even though we don’t have millions of dollars behind an advertising campaign,” Vander Kooi said.

Smith said, because of the hierarchy of the graffiti culture, a prominent graffiti artist will fill an entire wall, forcing other taggers to use unsanctioned spaces.

“In no community has a free wall ever worked,” Smith said.

The annual Nanaimo Graffiti Vandalism Clean Up happens Sunday (June 1) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everyone is invited meet the Nanaimo Graffiti Task force at Port Place Shopping Centre prior to the 11 a.m. start time. Thrifty Foods is hosting a hot dog barbecue for the event.

Just Posted

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

Letter writer suggests ways residents and the municipality can address the problem of litter along the highway. (Stock photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t add to litter problem

Letter writer who picks up litter along Parkway Trail implores Nanaimo to be tidier

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Most Read