A quick drive through any part of Hamilton and you’ll see graffiti. Some of it artistic, but most just an eyesore.
The city has hired two students to search out the “street art” and tell property owners to clean it up, but that strategy is upsetting victims of graffiti.
What is the difference between art and graffiti? Identifying which is which has become a challenge for the city of Hamilton.
Peter Wobschall, the Supervisor of Program Development with the city of Hamilton says, “Typically you’re going to have permission for art.It’s difficult, but that’s part of our strategy moving forward. Everybody has a different idea what art is.”
Two students are going around as part of the city’s graffiti strategy, to do an inventory of troubled areas, and ask property owners to clean up the tags and fine them if they don’t.
“It’s a bit of a prickly pair, because they’re victims of crime. They’re not negligent in leaving their weeds long and untidy, they’re victim of crimes.”
Sean Queroub’s sewing business on Ottawa Street has been hit many times.
“Why wouldn’t you just go around to clean it off, or provide business owners assistance in cleaning it off.”
He spends thousands of dollars a year cleaning it up and his neighbors are the same.
“I came into work 6 am on sunday, I noticed my neighbors building tagged. I checked my cameras to see if we caught the guy, sure enough we did.”
One property owner CHCH spoke to said if you don’t clean up the graffiti almost immediately, there’s a very good chance you’ll get tagged again by a copycat.
In Sean’s experience, this means, “It’s almost like a treasure hunt for these guys they see one tag, tag right beside it with their tag…it accumulates. If you don’t clean it off fast enough, the next thing you know your building is covered.”
Every year, the city spends $265,000 cleaning graffiti off city property. It’s estimated that cleanup costs for home and business owners soar above a million dollars.