City program wiping out graffiti

Citrus-based cleaners are playing a big role in wiping graffiti off of the map — and plenty of other surfaces — in Red Deer.

City of Red Deer bylaw compliance officer Fernando Paganelli

City of Red Deer bylaw compliance officer Fernando Paganelli

Citrus-based cleaners are playing a big role in wiping graffiti off of the map — and plenty of other surfaces — in Red Deer.

Bylaw compliance officer Fernando Paganelli and Cpl. Kathe DeHeer, head of community policing for Red Deer City RCMP, are working together to distribute the wipes, purchased for the city’s anti-graffiti program.

The wipes have been proven very effective at removing spray paint and marker ink from smooth and painted surfaces, Paganelli.

They’re not so great on other surfaces or on really big jobs, he said.

He and DeHeer are distributing wipes to community associations that will take part in the Green Deer cleanup this weekend, and they are available as long as supplies last from his and DeHeer’s offices for anyone else who needs to get rid of unwelcome art on their walls, vehicles and other personal property.

People planning to use the wipes will be trained in handling them safely.

Although they are not harmful to the environment, the wipes do contain a powerful solvent so must be used with care, said Paganelli.

So far this spring, graffiti complaints are up over last year, likely because the weather has been nice, he said.

Pagenelli now works closely with anti-graffiti teams in both Edmonton and Calgary to help deal with the problem, which he terms a form of vandalism.

It’s quite common for taggers visiting from either city to leave their marks in Red Deer, he said.

He has been photographing their work and sharing the pictures with his counterparts in both larger cities, adding them to the piles of evidence stacked against those taggers who do get caught.

The city has also approved hiring of a temporary officer for the summer, which will allow one person in the department to work full time on anti-graffiti education and enforcement.

While bylaw sections dealing with graffiti have been enforced on a complaint basis in the past, the city will now have the human resources it needs to have someone drive around and look for graffiti.

Whenever a tag is noted on private property, the property owner will get a letter advising that it must be removed within a set time, said Paganelli.

While some people get it done as soon as they can, the bylaw does allow him to fine people who ignore the warnings.

The Red Deer Graffiti Initiative Committee, set up three years ago, has also charted various spots in the city that have been noted as favourites among taggers. Paganelli hopes at some point to be able to install hidden cameras in those spots to identify offenders.

Anyone interested in reporting graffiti can call the graffiti hotline, 403-356-8908.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com