There’s a huge increase in graffiti in Red Deer — and the problem is taking up more of Les Kolibaba’s time.
The peace officer for the City of Red Deer’s Inspections and Licensing Department said 140 incidents of tagging were discovered in the January to March period — which is a massive jump, considering the normal is less than 20 incidents during the same period.
Some popular spots for spray-painted scrawls, such as the walls of the concrete tunnel that links park trails under 32nd Street, have already been repainted several times this spring.
The problem has become so bad that Kolibaba and other city staffers have taken to tracking mentions of graffiti on Twitter and other social media, and have come to believe a few individuals from Edmonton or Calgary are coming here to leave their mark.
“We’ve been finding graffiti on the third floor of buildings. … They do all kinds of things, it’s unbelievable! If (graffiti artists) channelled all that energy into a positive direction it’s amazing what they could do,” said the peace officer, who’s spending a lot more time investigating various scribbles and tags on city property.
Some of the graffiti is offensive, including a racial slur left on a city neighbourhood map in Bower and a swastika found last fall. But Kolibaba said most is merely unsightly.
City administrators are working on a graffiti strategy to address the growing problem. Kolibaba noted the downtown skateboard park is now the only legal place for graffiti.
Meanwhile, Red Deer residents who spot someone tagging are reminded to call police. Citizens should remove graffiti from their property as soon as possible, report it on the city’s hotline, at 403-356-8908, or fill out a “report a problem” form on the city’s website, www.reddeer.ca.