City officials suggest decrease in vandalism
Anecdotal evidence from city officials indicates that Prince Albert’s anti-graffiti program has led to a general decline in vandalism since its inception.
© Photo illustration by Matt Gardner
Anecdotal evidence from local officials of decreased vandalism activity suggests that the city’s Anti-Graffiti Paint Program may be having an effect.
First instituted in 2007, the Anti-Graffiti Paint Program encourages residents to help reduce graffiti by reporting, recording and removing instances of vandalism.
“It’s steadily been going down ever since we offered this program,” assistant parks manager Dan Sadlowski said. “So the program really is a good thing for the citizens and business owners of Prince Albert.”
Under the terms of the program, homeowners, business owners and privately-owned facilities who have suffered vandalism may apply to the city for a free paint kit -- which includes a gallon of paint, plastic gloves, tray and brush/roller -- to help cover up graffiti.
The city’s focus on prompt removal of graffiti is bolstered by studies showing that removal within 24 to 48 hours leads to a reoccurrence rate of almost zero.
Though he could not say whether it was a direct result of the Anti-Graffiti Paint Program, Sgt. Curtis Halcro of the Prince Albert Police Service echoed Sadlowski’s assessment of declining graffiti vandalism rates.
“I would have to say in all honesty, we have noticed a decrease in that type of activity … I haven’t seen as many reports of graffiti being reported by our citizens,” Halcro said.
“I know it’s an ongoing problem and an issue that’s very aggravating to a lot of homeowners and residents of the city. To wake up and find paint on your garage or on your vehicle is very annoying, and it’s very hard to enforce that type of a crime, because often there’s no witnesses and you pretty much have to catch these people or individuals in the act of such a crime.
“But I would say in all fairness that we haven’t been getting as many reports of this type of crime in the city.”
Mayor Greg Dionne also believed that graffiti vandalism activity has decreased of late.
He pointed to a number of factors in addition to the paint program.
“I would say … we’ve got less graffiti than we did a year ago, and I do believe that,” Dionne said. “But I also think public education, awareness, the media explaining the purpose of it (are important).
It’s steadily been going down ever since we offered this program. Dan Sadlowski
“At the end of the day, you’re charged with wilful damage, because that’s what you’re doing. You’re damaging somebody’s property, so it’s just like throwing a rock through somebody’s window … I just don’t understand it.”
The city budget sets aside $3,000 for the Anti-Graffiti Paint Program.
So far this year, 20 applicants have taken advantage of the program.
“It varies every year,” Sadlowski noted. “It just depends on what’s going on in our city at that time.”
Aside from the paint component, the reporting and recording of graffiti vandalism is an important part of the program.
Typically victims of vandalism contact the police who create files to keep track of affected areas within P.A.
“Unfortunately, it’s not one area of the city,” Halcro said. “It’s happening all over the city and it’s just one of those things that we have to deal with. It’s unfortunate.”
As with wilful damage resulting in broken windows for cars, police are uncertain whether graffiti vandalism in the city is linked to gang-related activity or is simply the work of youth with nothing better to do.
Halcro encouraged residents and business owners to call police if they hear any suspicious activity near their property.
Meanwhile, Sadlowski encouraged those who have been the victims of vandalism to take advantage of the Anti-Graffiti Paint Program, which will be available until Friday, Sept. 6.
“I see it as a valuable resource for the citizens of Prince Albert to take advantage of,” he said.
Those interested in applying for a paint kit must obtain and complete an Anti-Graffiti Paint Program application form from the Community Services Department on the third floor of City Hall before returning it for approval.