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Volunteer group tackles unwanted graffiti tags for Guelph businesses

A group of volunteers paint over graffiti tags on the side of a business on Waterloo Avenue. Matt Carty / CJOY News

Guelph is looking a little more fresh thanks to a group of volunteers who went around town on Friday and covered up unwanted graffiti tags on the walls of several businesses for free.

The second “Around Town Wash Down” involved about 20 volunteers working in groups at 12 local businesses.

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Paul Deacon started the initiative in Guelph two years ago after doing something similar in England before moving to Canada in 2010.

“It’s not just about painting or tagging or anything like that,” he said. “It was like we’re meeting people in the city and having a good time, and that’s really what it’s about.”

He said about 80 per cent of the buildings they worked on in 2016 have gone untouched.

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Deacon has been approaching businesses over the last few months to ask if they would like the graffiti on their walls covered up and he said some were confused at first, including one woman who owns a laundromat.

“She said, ‘Why are you doing this for free?’ And I said, ‘Well, maybe I guess altruism is out of fashion,'” he said.

Dulux Paints supported the event and supplied all of the materials, including the paint and rollers, through their Colourful Communities program.

Deacon said the store manager worked with him and the businesses to make sure the job was done right.

“They’ve also colour-matched the paint as well, so we’re not just putting out blocks of grey covering it over. It will be an exact match and going back to the base colour if that’s what the owner wants,” he explained.

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The volunteers included professional painters from Colours By Christian, LM Renovations and Paintchic Painting.

Deacon said he would like to see this be an annual event, but would also like to create murals on some walls.

“There are some boring walls in Guelph. There are some boring walls in any city,” he said. “If we could make places look a little bit more attractive, less threatening or less boring, then why not?”

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