Editorial: Graffiti is a Vancouver Island problem worth addressing

Vigilance needed so we aren’t overrun by this unwanted scrawling mess

Some people figure graffiti isn’t really a big deal.

But while it’s not as serious as violent crimes or break-ins or thefts, it is still a problem worth addressing.

We recently posted a story about Duncan once again being overrun by this unwanted scrawling mess. And the city of totems is hardly unique on the Island in facing this issue.

Don’t kid yourself that the graffiti we’re talking about is some kind of street art that deserves consideration for its aesthetic appeal or deep message. We’re talking tags, often incomprehensible and poorly spelled.

There’s no artistic vision here, no care taken. It’s just ugly, often black spray paint wherever the vandal thinks they can get away with putting it. It’s really just a blight on our cityscape.

Because that’s what graffiti like this does to our public spaces. It makes our community look run-down and crime-ridden. Nobody wants to look that gritty. We understand that there can be an even more sinister meaning behind it as well. It can be code for where people can buy drugs — which are an even more serious cancer in our communties.

Traditionally, they’ve even denoted gang territories.

And for the owners of the building rife with it, there’s an expense of both time and money to remove it. Sometimes that’s private owners, but sometimes that’s the taxpayers, too.

Whether it’s the cost to paint over it, or wash it off, it’s not a victimless crime.

Many Vancouver Island communities have bylaws in place governing what colours buildings are allowed to be, and how they are allowed to decorate and businesses allowed to advertise. The idea is to give our city a cohesive, old-town feel that will be appealing to visitors and residents.

To see these efforts subverted by vandals is sad and angering.

So while no, graffiti is not the worst problem facing our communities, it is something to be rooted out.

Report graffiti if it happens. If we don’t know about an issue, we can’t fix it.

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