If there’s one caveat to take away from today’s feature story, The eye of the tagger, it’s this: graffiti vandalism is a community problem and it needs a community fix.
As Saanich police point out on their website, graffiti is an act of vandalism involving painting, drawing, scribbling, or “tagging” on any surface without the permission of the property owner.
Permitted street art and other graffiti is something to be nurtured and celebrated, but only where appropriate.
Initiatives like community paint outs are a great way to bring people together to tackle tagging, but they need a sustained, repetitive approach to truly discourage culprits.
Esquimalt’s Together Against Graffiti (ETAG) program is a great example for Saanich to follow as the problem of tagging increases in the municipality. That township’s model brings together police, volunteers and municipal crews to act immediately after a tag is reported. ETAG has a reporting hotline that notifies volunteers about a new tag, so that the surface is cleaned quickly.
Saanich police Const. Mark Pamminger has been doing good work by building community relationships to tackle prolific graffiti, but it’s now time for neighbourhood associations to pick up the torch and organize volunteer crews for quick clean-ups. B.C. Hydro provides Pamminger with paint supplies to clean hydro poles, and no doubt other businesses will step up if the call goes out.
Graffiti isn’t just a mess for police and Saanich crews to sort out: it’s everyone’s problem.
Clean neighbourhoods lead to stronger communities. Perhaps a Saanich Together Against Graffiti (STAG) team will pop up and take charge before another tagger has a chance to put the cap back on her permanent marker.