A pedestrian underpass in Williams Lake has recently been the target of vandalism.
Peppered with vulgar and profanity-laced messages, the graffiti is written throughout what City Council says is the new $20 million project under Highway 97 that Council had partnered with the province on.
“It was vandalized in the last 48 hours,” Councillor Scott Nelson said at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
“The concrete is not even dry and they’ve already gone in and vandalized it and wrote all over the walls and painted dirty pictures on it.”
As to how the City will remediate it, CAO Milo MacDonald said the City has just put in a grant application to the Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Remediation Grant Program for $25,000 with a matching contribution of $5,000 from the City’s anti-graffiti fund.
“The hope is that we’ll be able to fund local artists to do murals on the walls that are most impacted by vandalism and graffiti because in other communities what’s been seen is when artists take ownership of a mural on a wall that the graffiti folks actually respect that and they’ll leave it alone,” MacDonald said.
“So there is a respect between artists that has been observed in many communities. We’re hoping to capitalize on that. It’d be early to say where exactly we’d be putting that and of course some of that infrastructure actually belongs to the Ministry, so we’d have to have conservations with them on what they’d like to see in that spot but that tunnel was actually one of the things that was spoken of in the staff report and in the grant application that we sent to the Civil Forfeiture.”
MacDonald said although the City has a policy to ‘grey-out’ graffiti by painting over it with grey concrete colored paint he calls it an endless war.
“They paint on it, we paint over it, they paint on it, we paint over it. Our hope is with murals you can see it in the City that there are a number of murals which have never ever been touched,” MacDonald said.
“That’s just one of the good things about people in this community is they do leave that kind of stuff alone. Some people view a concrete wall as a blank canvas, so we’re hoping that they’ll be respectful of the murals that we create and an opportunity to partner with some local artists to get a chance to put some really cool things up.”