Grappling with Graffiti
– Esquimalt is becoming a “graffiti-free zone”
By Tim Morrison
Esquimalt has an amazing naturally-beautiful setting. That’s why we choose to live here. But nature aside, we struggle with a not-so-natural, not-so-appealing sampling of eyesores around our fair township. One of the worst culprits: graffiti and the so-called “artists” (or taggers) that create it.
As Esquimalt continues to improve itself, one dedicated group of residents have worked to stamp out all graffiti. This admirable group of volunteers is called ETAG (Esquimalt Together Against Graffiti) and has been led by the tireless efforts of local residents along with the partnership support of the Township of Esquimalt and the Victoria Police Department. The goal is “to keep graffiti under control by removing the ‘tags’ or ‘pieces’ from public and private buildings and walls without delay” in making Esquimalt a graffiti free zone.
Esquimalt resident Graham Jackson, Director of Victoria’s Youth with a Mission, is reliably known for organizing youth in helping out with ridding our community of all graffiti. This past summer, Jackson was hosting a group from Vallejo, California, and quickly put them in contact with ETAG.
One of ETAG’s key leaders, Peter Justo, confesses that ETAG has been so diligent and successful that he actually had to search carefully to find them an area still in need of cleaning.
“There was a section of the warehouse walls along the trackside near Lampson Street that had recently been spray-painted by the usual vandals,” said Justo. “Local ETAG volunteers asked the business owners to supply the paint and…six eager young people got rid of the offending paint work in record time.”
Along with local businesses, youth are also a crucial partner in the war against graffiti. As many culprits are likely to be youth, it is very reassuring to see other more positive youth helping to wipe it all away.
In many respects, ETAG is winning the battle but we have not yet one the war. It is an ongoing struggle and Esquimalt Councillor Meagan Brame says we need to do more by amending the municipality’s Maintenance of Property Bylaw to get tougher on graffiti.
“Volunteers have proven that immediate and constant removal deters taggers from continuing because their work is not left to be viewed,” says Brame. “This motion is looking at ways to keep the process against graffiti going in a positive and proactive manner…I am hoping it will offer education to businesses and residents about the benefits of keeping on top of graffiti. We don’t want to penalize business or residents – we want to work with them and educate them on how to best deal with it.”
“Esquimalt has become nationally and internationally known for its great work with tagging,” adds Brame.
Indeed we have as evidenced by ETAG’s hosting of an international Anti-Graffiti Symposium in 2009.
Did you know? ETAG invites all Esquimalt residents to do their part by taking these three actions:
- Report Graffiti to the ETAG Hotline: 250-414-7154
- Remove: Keep your neighbourhood or business free of graffiti by wiping off or painting over tags on hydro poles, mailboxes, benches etc as soon as they appear. Support for removal may be available. Call the Hotline for more information.
- Volunteer for ETAG: a very minimal weekly time commitment can make a huge difference in Graffiti management in our community. Learn how you can volunteer with ETAG by calling the hotline at 250-414-7154.
When people are made to feel unwelcome, dejected, and unappreciated, they are not likely to stick around. Hence, taggers can pack up their paint and get out of town! And, by the way, there will be nothing left behind to remember you by. That is an ETAG guarantee.