Mayor Jim Watson announced a new pilot project to deter graffiti on electrical traffic control boxes Friday.
By the end of November, 24 boxes on Bank Street will be covered in vinyl, graffiti-resistant wrappers.
“Traffic control boxes are one of the prime targets to be tagged in our community,” said Watson. “The cost of graffiti removal on traffic control boxes is over $35,000 each and every year.”
The city spent almost $4,500 last year to remove graffiti from the boxes on Bank St. between Queen St. and Riverdale Ave., Watson said.
“This area has experienced one of the highest rates of graffiti vandalism of our traffic control boxes, making it the ideal location for this pilot project,” he added.
Councillors David Chernushenko, Katherine Hobbs, Diane Holmes, Tim Tierney and Marianne Wilkinson took turns using a permanent market to write on a traffic control box fitted with the new coating. Watson then used a cloth and cleaning solution to demonstrate how easily the marker can be wiped off.
If the $6,000 project is successful, boxes will be made with the covers on them that will cost less than wrapping existing boxes, Wilkinson said.
The city doesn’t know how much traffic control box vandalism contributes to graffiti as a whole, she said adding that Business Improvement Areas (BIA) receive funding to help remove graffiti from business properties.
“They paint it over with this ugly colour of brown,” said Simon Anisman, owner of Lost Marbles on Bank Street of the Glebe BIA . He said this doesn’t deter people from vandalizing the walls again.
“A clean brown wall gets a tag every week,” he said, offering that a more effective solution would be to have murals painted on the walls instead.
“The more legitimate art that gets up on these walls make our city more interesting and deters them from writing on the walls,” said Anisman. The Glebe BIA paid half the cost of a mural by local artist Dan Metcalfe on the outside wall of Lost Marbles’ Bank St. location.
“Nobody is going to go over his stuff,” said Anisman of the mural showing a series of Russian nesting dolls. “There’s some respect there.”
The city gives $50,000 to Crime Prevention Ottawa to hire youth to work with artists and draw murals to deter graffiti in neighbourhoods each year.
“In the economic development report that’s going to FEDCO (Finance and Economic Development Committee) next week,” said Wilkinson, “they’re asking for another $50,000 to do them in business areas.”
With files by Graham Lanktree