Graffiti of various shapes and colours already marks the newly installed sound barrier walls along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail near the McKenzie interchange and Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff is seeking solutions.
Over the month of August, Brownoff received numerous calls from residents about graffiti on the cement sound barrier panels that now line the Galloping Goose where the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is finishing the new McKenzie interchange. While out on a bike ride at the end of the month, Brownoff counted 32 panels near Marigold Elementary School spray-painted with words and symbols.
She emphasized that while she appreciates street art, the graffiti along the bike trail “isn’t art, it’s tagging.” Brownoff added that the sound wall works well, but its current appearance isn’t inviting and she expects it will only get worse because the area is so accessible.
After seeing the graffiti for herself, Brownoff reached out to the ministry and the Capital Regional District – which manages the Galloping Goose but not the sound barrier wall – to discuss solutions.
In a written statement sent to Black Press Media, the ministry said it’s aware of the graffiti and that staff have gone out to paint over the spray-painted tags a few times and will continue to do so.
“Painting over graffiti is part of highway maintenance,” the statement said. “Anti-graffiti paint is often used, and while it doesn’t stop graffiti, it does make it easier to clean off.”
Brownoff isn’t surprised that the wall continues to be defaced – “it’s a blank canvas” that spans about 1,000 metres – but she said keeping the panels clean could require daily maintenance which would be costly.
She is hoping for a positive solution and has suggested planting trees along the panels, repurposing the sound barriers into “green walls” or bringing in artists to install murals to discourage tagging.
The mural could incorporate work by First Nations artists, train motifs to hearken back to the old rail line in the area, Garry oaks and examples of active transportation and healthy living, Brownoff said.
This fall, Saanich’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee – which Brownoff chairs – will be looking at bringing the mural suggestion to council who could then involve the ministry.
“It was a real big mistake not to look at what else could have been done with this wall,” she said.