During Monday night’s regular Town Council meeting the Mayor and Council heard from director of community services, Rob Lebsack, about anongoing issue of graffiti concerns within the town.
Lebsack stated over the past decade the growth of the municipality has provided a number of ideal ‘canvasses’ for graffiti within thecommunity.
“Although there have only been a few instances of massive overnight hits to the community, the graffiti concerns are constant and slightlyincreasing in frequency as the community grows,” stated Lebsack in his report to Council.
Council was concerned over the amount of graffiti in the community and asked community services to look into deterrants or other programsthat may limit the graffiti within town, including the possibility of the use of rewards to assist in arrest and conviction of offenders.
Within Lebsack’s report, a statement from the RCMP concluded the idea of a reward system, although a commendable idea on the Town’s part,too closely paralled the idea of Crimestoppers – a program which had been active for decades, and that they did not feel it would not be aworthwhile endeavor.
Ultimately it was suggested the Town should impliment a Community Standards Enhancement Task Force – an entity which would focus ongraffiti and/or all ‘anti-social behaviours’. It was suggested the group would include RCMP members, council members, business owners,schools and neighbourhood groups to create a solution that would solve chronic graffiti.
Councillor Chris Lust, who prior to becoming a councillor in Sylvan Lake worked as a divisional strategist for the City of Red Deer CommunityServices department, suggested the Town may want to take a look at initiatives Red Deer has in place such as the community graffiti clean upprograms offered by the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre (CACPC).
“They have done a great deal of work with much success in Red Deer around graffiti and there name does suggest Central Alberta, I know theexecutive director of this organization is entertaining the idea of expanding their services to outlying communities,” explained Lust, who addedthe CACPC frequently mobilizes volunteers to do city wide graffiti clean ups and may be a great addition to the task force.
In addition, Councillor Lust referenced Red Deer’s Downtown Business Association’s partnership with Steve Woolrich of SeCure ConsultingSolutions Inc., where areas of the City which regularily attracted negative activity were beautified with massive murals created by local artists totransform the areas in vibrant positive spaces. In turn the murals take away canvas space for people to place graffiti on and create a sense ofpride in the area.
“This seems like one of the best possible ways to prevent graffiti – I think it’s a multi-prong approach,” said Lust.
Councillor Payne agreed the idea of painting murals was a valid idea as often their is a respect level present where people are less likely to notvandalize an area that is considered art.
“I think the idea of having spaces around town, that aren’t taggable – done by a professional artist with a lot of creative style and class is a coolidea,” Payne added.
Mayor McIntyre noted it was worthwhile to consider providing mural creation grants to encourage local artists and business owners to apply tocreate artwork around town.
The motion to create a Community Standards Enhancement Task Force and Program was brought forth by Councillor Parsons, with the motionbeing passed unanimously.
A subsequent motion was also brought forward by Mayor McIntyre advising Town staff to prepare a report that would include the cost ofinvesting in utility box ‘photo wraps’ that would also advise utility companies to follow suit along with the Town covering their own availableboxes. This motion also passed unanimously.