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Edmonton funicular vandalism leads to questions about graffiti response

Click to play video 'Questions raised about graffiti response after Edmonton’s funicular vandalized' Questions raised about graffiti response after Edmonton’s funicular vandalized
WATCH ABOVE: Broken glass and graffiti could be spotted at Edmonton's funicular recently and some of the damage has been there for months. As Fletcher Kent reports, some people want the city to do a better job of cleaning up after vandals – Aug 24, 2018

A trio of vandalism incidents at one of Edmonton’s newest tourist attractions is raising questions about how long the city is taking to respond to these types of events.

Profane graffiti on a glass partition at the funicular in downtown Edmonton was first reported on social media Thursday morning. By Friday afternoon, crews had fixed the graffiti but other signs of vandalism remained.

A panel of glass separating the funicular from nearby stairs had also shattered; it has been that way since at least June.
A panel of glass separating the funicular from nearby stairs had also shattered; it has been that way since at least June. Fletcher Kent/Global News

The glass wall of the funicular was broken roughly at foot height, and a panel of glass separating the funicular from nearby stairs had shattered; the latter has been there since at least June. When Global News asked about it back in July, the city said the replacement panel was on back-order.

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The glass wall of the funicular was broken roughly at foot height.
The glass wall of the funicular was broken roughly at foot height. Fletcher Kent/Global News

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According to the most recent graffiti audit done in 2017, the number of tags have increased in downtown over the last three years; there were 260 tags in 2015 compared to 383 tags in 2017.

“When I saw the damage being done, just by straight vandalism, it’s just sad,” Councillor Bev Esslinger said.

“I think the funicular is something that belongs to all Edmontonians.”

A statement from the city to Global News regarding the vandalism reads, in part:

“We are frustrated and disappointed with the vandalism and graffiti that has occurred at the Funicular. When these events happen, we work to fix and address the issue as soon as we can, however this typically involves staff resources and money, and can take time to order in specific parts when required.”

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Esslinger said she expects clean up to be done in a timely manner.

“Some of that has been a while. For me, you want to get it done as soon as possible,” she said.

“We have tourists coming to the city. We want to have a good image of our city. We don’t want that so the sooner, the better for me.”

When asked if the city will need to find more money to deal with the increased graffiti downtown, Esslinger said the budget will be tight this year.

“I’m sure it’s going to be some of the questions as to whether we need to invest more or not, but we need to do ongoing investment,” she said.

Jennifer Wickman was raised in Edmonton but now lives in Boston; she was in the city Friday being a tourist in her hometown when she saw the vandalism at the attraction.

“There are some words I wouldn’t want my kids to be reading. That does take away from the otherwise lovely attraction,” she said.