A graffiti cleanup initiative by West Fourth’s business association in Vancouver was yielding positive results.
Then one bad apple started tagging apartment blocks and their shrubs just outside the group’s boundaries.
Large lettering featuring short words like “not” and “obvz” (slang for “obvious”) have appeared on approximately a dozen residences outside the West Fourth Avenue Business Association’s borders in the past 3 months.
According to Gerrard Neault of The Cat and Dog Shop, a store next to a vandalized building, things were quiet for a couple years until one person started tagging residences.
“There would be paint all over the front glass,” says Neault, “but that was a while ago. Then this [graffiti] pops up beside me.”
Here today, gone tomorrow[pullquote align=”right”]It was an isolated incident with this new tagging[/pullquote]Constable Paul Hogan, a full-time neighbourhood police officer at the Kitsilano Fairview Community Policing Centre, confirmed Neault’s suspicion of a lone artist.
“It wasn’t the graffiti returning. It was an isolated incident with this new tagging,” says Hogan, “otherwise it’s been pretty good in that area.”
Shop owners both in and out of the business association’s district agree that the weekly graffiti cleanups had been making a difference on the street.
“You used to see tagging all over these store fronts,” says Donna Hohl, a West Fourth Avenue Business Association board member and owner of Coco’s Closet. “Now the company we hired to cleanup, Graffiti Removal Team, is so fast that I’ll see a tag one day and it’s gone the next time I look.”
Worth the cost
The business group’s strategic plan for 2011 to 2014 lists ways the board wished to improve the shopping district, including a weekly graffiti cleanup.
Along the strip between Balsam and Burrard, the tagging is few and far between. There is still the odd mailbox adorned with lettering, but nothing to the extent of how it used to be.
At the last board meeting for West Fourth’s business association, Hohl says that they spoke briefly of potentially cancelling the graffiti cleanup service since it charges a flat rate based on the number of buildings as opposed to how much tagging is on them.
“But it’s worth it,” says Hohl, “even if it’s under control now. To not have to worry that something big will pop-up, and to keep the area looking clean and safe, it’s worth it.”