TORONTO has been fighting an ongoing war against taggers and graffiti vandals for years, and City Hall now appears ready to take them on. Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Cesar Palacio launched their ‘Clean Toronto Together’ campaign in a St. Clair alleyway on Tuesday, April 7.
Mayor Ford: “Graffiti just depreciates the value of everyone’s property. It turns it into a ghetto, and that’s not the kind of city I want to represent. We’re gonna go brick by brick right across the city, and we’re gonna get it cleaned up and that’s the bottom line . . . We have already started a three week cleanup of thousands of tons of litter.”
As well, TORONTO has upped the number of Notices of Violation for unkempt properties. Under former Mayor DAVID MILLER, from March/2009 to November/2010, 2,628 citations were issued in 20 months; under FORD, from December/2010 to March/2011, there was a huge increase to 3,300 in only 4 months. Ten inspectors in the Municipal Licensing Office have been dedicated to hunting down tags on private properties, and issuing notices to the owners.
TORONTO has allowed tagging/postering to fester over the years, by simply doing the minimum, and hoping it’ll just go away. This mollycoddling approach is totally inadequate in every respect. Taggers and posterers have come to believe that each and every building and piece of street furniture is their’s to plaster as they please. Our city has spent millions of dollars cleaning up the streets, only to have them defaced all over again.
We’re miles behind the Americans in dealing with this problem. Chicago doesn’t tolerate it, neither does New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Portland or any other front-line city. We’ve been sitting here, accepting this as an inevitable nuisance, something to be ignored, not worth fighting or worrying about. PHOTO - Colin O’Connor for the National Post, <http://news.nationalpost.com>
On the other hand, there are some fabulous street artists in our city and we should celebrate them. Their work should be protected and encouraged. Lance Cumberbatch, Director of Investigative Services, Municipal Licensing and Standards agrees. He says that inspectors are careful about erasing what some might consider art: “we know the significance of that lane (Graffiti Alley, Spadina Avenue/Queen Street West). What we’re going to try to do, through an approval process, is something to entrench it, to make sure that it is . . . protected in the future.” (National Post, 4/7/2011)