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City says increase in graffiti trend continues in Edmonton for 2nd year

Graffiti in downtown Edmonton on Nov. 7, 2018.
Graffiti in downtown Edmonton on Nov. 7, 2018. Credit: Twitter/Chris LaBossiere

Downtown businesses continue to see a dramatic increase in being vandalized by graffiti. Statistics from a 2017 audit show a 27 per cent increase in graffiti tags.

Images posted to the Twitter timeline last week of Yardstick’s Chris LaBossiere shows the damage.

Meanwhile Edmonton police are investigating after two schools were defaced at roughly the same time with racist graffiti.

Glengarry elementary school and Killarney Junior High School both had graffiti painted on their exterior walls.

Staff at the schools — which are both part of the Edmonton public school district — noticed the graffiti and immediately alerted police. The marks were covered or removed by Wednesday afternoon.

“We are extremely disappointed this type of racist graffiti is still present in our city. It’s unacceptable and disturbing, nor does it reflect the belief and values of our schools,” EPSD spokeswoman Carrie Rosa said.

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She said staff spoke with their students on Wednesday and a letter was sent home to families.

The school district said Queen Elizabeth School was also vandalized but the graffiti was smaller than the size of a brick.

“Generally speaking, we’re not seeing an increase in racist, hateful, derogatory graffiti,” said Karey Steil, a community relations advisor with the city.

“That’s based on what’s being reported and what our crews observe. We make every effort — if racist or hateful graffiti is noted in the city — to have it removed within 24 hours.

“We take that very, very seriously.”

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The 27 per cent climb is a constant, said Steil in an interview.

“Some neighborhoods, we saw higher, and in others, significant decreases which is great to see, but overall tagging is definitely higher.”

“We’re not doing an audit in 2018 but anecdotally I think yes, we feel safe to say that trend is continuing.”

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“Sadly, tagging/graffiti is way up across the city in the last 12 to 18 months,” said Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, via his Twitter feed, pointing out the help Capital City Clean Up can provide with a $750 grant of professional cleaning services.

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O’Donnell puts the trend down to an increase in gang activity.

“I would agree with Ian’s statement and I think from Ian as well, he’s representing the businesses who have to deal with it and he’s representing downtown who has to deal with an image,” Steil said.

“Every municipality in the country — and probably the continent — is putting their heads to figure out why?” Steil added. “I would think it’s fair to say we don’t have that answer.

“The tagging community — it’s really about marking your territory and if you look at it, it’s vandalism, it’s derogatory behaviour and that’s hard to battle.”