Solutions-Graffiti’s perspective on the proposed policy
The Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough (CDN / NDG) is looking for new ways to combat the rise of graffiti on its territory, an issue that is very important to borough residents.
Known for its proactive approach to graffiti cleaning, and its effective intervention program, the Montreal neighborhood provides free graffiti cleaning on private buildings – both residential and commercial – through its “Prevention NDG” program.
Recently, the borough made headlines by proposing a new initiative which would require building owners to clean up any graffiti located on their building (s) within a specific timeframe. If they do not comply, they could be fined up to $ 4,000. Here is an article about it in the Montreal Gazette, published on August 31.
We have received several questions about this initiative – even the media has asked us to comment. Clearly, there is some confusion about the program, so here is our point of view;
If the current program is maintained, and the owners who are fined are those who refuse to sign the form authorizing the (free) graffiti removal, along with the accompanying discharge (amazingly, there are some owners who refuse the service), then the borough can count on Solutions-Graffiti’s total support. The idea would not only encourage responsibility from property owners, it would also raise awareness about the costs of cleaning and about the consequences of inaction – which would certainly promote a closer collaboration between NDG and the owners of buildings, who would have a financial incentive to collaborate; that of avoiding the fine. In this sense, the initiative could generate a positive result, aligning everyone’s interests – the borough, property owners and citizens – towards a common goal; cleaning any graffiti found in the neighborhood as quickly as possible. Makes sense.
Several of the borough’s building owners do not live in the neighborhood, some do not even live in Canada, so the visual integrity of their building is not a priority for them. With graffiti, every minute counts, and the longer the delay between the time a graffiti is reported and the time it is removed allows the situation to worsen – typically, the size of the graffiti will grow as new taggers add their “contribution”, then going from one wall to the next, then the alley, garage doors, etc.
The quicker the removal, the less you allow the incentive factor to take place. Remember, graffiti attracts more graffiti, and inaction or negligence is seen by taggers as an opportunity to add their mark. It is practically an invitation.
Some have expressed concerns that the current program would be replaced by this proposed punitive system. If THIS is the case, our experience gives us reason to believe that the result would be very negative, notably through administrative delays. Think about it; first a notice to remove graffiti is sent, then a follow-up inspection (monitoring), then the fine, all the while the graffiti remains on the wall – probably getting worse every day, and infecting the surrounding surfaces. This second option should be avoided, as it would go against the progress made by the NDG in its fight against graffiti, and would almost certainly be destined for failure. This second possibility was recently discussed on 98.5 FM (a Montreal radio station) by Solutions Graffiti founder Sébastien Pitre with well-known radio host Benoit Dutrizac, on September 1st, 2011. The discussion followed an interview with Suzanne Clarke, the councilor who is heading this initiative. Here is the link to listen to the interview with Mrs. Clarke (in french).
*Disclaimer: Graffiti-Solutions is the provider of graffiti cleaning services for Prevention NDG