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Cost to remove Summerside graffiti this summer in the thousands

Al Cameron sands off a tag from a utility pole in Summerside. The City of Summerside says a program to remove graffiti has led to 200 such tags being covered.
Al Cameron sands off a tag from a utility pole in Summerside. The City of Summerside says a program to remove graffiti has led to 200 such tags being covered. - Millicent McKay

SUMMERSIDE - About 200 graffiti tags have been covered since the new graffiti removal program started last month, according to a City of Summerside official.

JP Desrosiers, the director of community services, says there are about 80 tags left that still need to be covered or removed.

Some of the tags are new while others are quite old, he said.

The introduction of the city’s new program has led to detailed tracking of locations of all tags and their removals.

“The program came about as I was getting tired of my green spaces crews being pulled away from parks and green spaces work to deal with tags. This interruption in service was creating longer than normal service delivery to our parks, boardwalks and other areas in the city,” Desrosiers said.

This summer, he anticipates the cost of graffiti removal will range from about $5,000 to $7,000, including labour and supplies.

“In years to come this number will likely drop as we deal with a stockpile of older tags.”

He says local residents have been great at notifying the city about new and pre-existing tag locations.

“We’ve also noticed a lot of local businesses and residents cleaning up private property tags.”

He says there are there are two recurring tags.

And while removal or covering the tags has been successful, there are still new tags popping up.

“However, it’s slowed substantially, and we feel this program is well worth the investment both short- and long-term in dealing with the issue.”

Trent Williams, the city’s parks and green spaces manager, said the number of graffiti tags that have been removed could be around 250 or higher.

“We’re in our fifth week of this work and we’ll keep doing it for as long as we need,” said Williams.

There are a number of ways to remove the graffiti including sanding it off wooden surfaces and using professional grade materials to remove tags from concrete, brick, steel and painted surfaces.

“As residents we’ve become a bit complacent. We get so used to seeing the graffiti that it’s like we don’t notice it anymore. But once you begin looking for it, you’re quick to realize how much there is around the city.”

He says public response to the tags has been helpful and encourages city residents to continue to report sightings to the police.

“It’s been great support for the community to be engaged. Graffiti is a destructive activity and it reflects on our community in general.

“I’d much rather see this turn into something positive. Maybe we can work with the taggers to set up more graffiti boards. This is their city too.”

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