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Anti-graffiti bylaw
Will the new strategy make your streets look better?
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 3 novembre 2011

 
Photo: Marie Cicchini

The “Our Lady of Grace” mural on Sherbrooke at the corner of Madison.

A new beautification clause was introduced in the anti-graffiti bylaw that came into effect on Oct. 19 in CDN-NDG. Les Actualités followed up on developments with district councillor Susan Clarke, responsible for the graffiti file for the borough, who spearheaded this initiative.

Marie Cicchini: Have there been new developments since this bylaw was introduced?
Susan Clarke:
The borough’s internal anti-tag committee met at the end of October to discuss our approach and strategy. There is no obligation for business owners to remove graffiti during the winter. The borough wants to make sure that the graffiti gets cleaned more in the spring. More and more businesses seem to be making a good effort to remove graffiti.

Prevention NDG, with funds from the city and the borough, hired a company of five legal graffitists. They made a new mural on Sherbrooke close to Madison. The inauguration will be held any day now.

MC: Have you decided what non-toxic products will be available to citizens through the Éco-quartier?
SC:
There are a few different products and right now the public works experts are testing them with the distributors. We want our experts to validate them, and confirm that our products are non-toxic and ecological.

We intend to buy a certain quantity that will be put in a container by the Éco-quartier. Let’s say a resident has small or repetitive tags on his fence, he’ll be able to remove it by himself, even in November, if the weather is warm enough. Sometimes we can send Prevention NDG, but it takes a police report before scheduling the removal. So that’s the principle. It’ll wait until spring.

MC: Could anyone do a mural?
SC:
The borough regulates the number of murals. We will have a series of criteria that must be respected. This list is being elaborated. A few months from now people who want to create a mural will be able to call 311 to get the details.

MC: What to you think about accredited art education for youths in exchange of fines or prosecution?
SC:
[Activist] Michael Shafter has thrown out the idea on various occasions, but the borough doesn’t have the means to offer training courses. I’ve always been looking for a safe place where we could have a free, animated wall, but it has to be far enough from businesses and residences, and have lots of light and passersby. It would require corporate funding and someone to liven it up. Maybe Michael Shafter could propose to a school board to make an offer.

MC: Street art and graffiti are welcome in some cities, like in Portugal. It attracts tourists. Could we do this here?
SC:
Paint is used with tags. If it’s not controlled, it can harm brick or cause other damage. I don’t think that murals everywhere, on Monkland or Victoria for example, would be welcome. We adopted the bylaw because we don’t want profound changes in the character of the borough.

MC: Is there something the borough can do when graffiti is the result of pathological behaviour in certain individuals?

Based on police information and invoices sent out by the borough, about eight people are active taggers in our territory. I’m thinking about making the youth court more aware of this problem to better control tagging. If we can make judges and crown attorneys aware of this problem, the consequences, and everything, maybe people who tag repetitively can receive the help they need to change their position or their situation. I’m looking for the right contacts in the fields, people with experience with social aid agencies and with the youth court.

[ Marie Cicchini ]

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