There has been a spike in vandalism across Edmonton that has hit Whyte Avenue particularly hard, the city has confirmed.
Graffiti stained vast portions of the Whyte Avenue area on Friday, visible to many passing through.
Sethe San Miguel, who was visiting from Calgary with friends, said the problem appears to be much worse in Edmonton than his city.
“They’re not even murals or anything nice like art. It’s just kids messing around,” San Miguel told Global News. “It’s very unappealing for people travelling here.”
Louise Cheng lives in town, but isn’t any more impressed by the mess.
“I think it makes it look run down and it makes it looks like it’s not safe,” Cheng said.
Local business owners have noticed a jump in tagging since mid-February, consisting of five or six different tags. Making matters worse, cold weather at the time delayed cleanup.
“My suspicion is they do it when it’s cold because they know business owners won’t come clean it up right away and so that their tag stays out a little longer,” said Jeff Nachtigall, who co-owns Sugared & Spiced Baked Goods.
Nachtigall has seen a number of tags pop on his business, a problem he said is about more than the clean-up cost.
Just steps away, Vivid Print co-owner Mark Wilson said his business has been tagged four to five times a month since mid-February.
“It’s the broken-window syndrome,” Wilson said. “If an area looks like it’s not being taken care of, it continues to snowball and just makes everything much worse.”
The City of Edmonton confirmed to Global News it has seen a marked increase in graffiti this year, with cold temperatures during winter preventing removal.
The city-run Capital City Clean Up program has been attending 29 graffiti locations a day this week, according to manager Don Belanger.
“We believe very strongly that we’ve got to get it cleaned,” Belanger said. “We’re working with the business association and the property owners in the area and hopefully we’ll see some changes happening in the next few weeks.”
Residents who notice vandalism can report it using the Edmonton 311 app.
Property owners with graffiti can apply to Capital City Clean Up for up to $750 worth of professional cleaning.