. graffiti cleanup

Wiping out inner city graffiti

Graffiti is ubiquitous in Calgary's inner city neighbourhoods. Some call it vandalism, some call it art, but a number of municipal, not-for-profit and community groups are fighting to curb it.

"It's vandalism, it's costly and it's illegal," says Elizabeth Leitch, Program Leader with the City of Calgary's Graffiti Abatement and Awareness Program (GAAP). GAAP provides training and materials to individuals and groups wanting to remove or paint over graffiti.

The Alberta Youth Outreach Foundation (AYOF) knows how rewarding that can be. On May 25, 2002, more than 5 youth and volunteers from the foundation's Cave Outreach Centre spent the day removing graffiti from teh area surrounding 17 Avenue SW. It was the second annual Student Turning Responsibility into Valuable Experience (STRIVE) event.

Prowling for crooks

"Graffiti is a huge, very expensive problem," says Uptown 17 BRZ President Barb Stein.

On June 6, 2002, that organization implemented a 24 hour crime watch to catch vandals in the act. The initiative features a team of plain-clothed 'crime prevention specialists' trained by police. Stein will not divulge how many people are on the team.

The team, says Stein, will be "non-confrontational" and report vandals to the police.

Graffiti as art

As graffiti has found its way from its original urban locations to the walls of galleries and museums, the question of vandalism and graffiti as an art from has provoked endless controversy.

While tagging, or scribbling, seems to be universally scorned, some graffiti represents artistic expression, says Lawrence Besier, a manager at the Source on 17 Avenue SW. Consequently, the store makes its back wall accessible to graffiti artists (sometimes called graffers).

The Victoria Crossing BRZ (now the Victoria Park BRZ) is trying that tack in their quest to reduce graffiti, coordinating a mural project on walls behind the bars on 1 Street SE.

"There is an artistic aspect to some graffiti," says then-BRZ President Eileen Stan, "and we're hoping contributors will self-police the area." 

When it happens to you

When graffiti appears on your property, remove it immediately. Research shows that when graffiti is removed within 72 hours, the chance of it reappearing is greatly reduced. If it appears again in the same location, keep on removing it as many times as you have to until it stops coming back. Vigilant efforts to remove graffiti will send a clear message to vandals that graffiti will not be tolerated on your property.

For information removing graffiti other assistance, contact the Graffiti Abatement Assistance Program 3-1-1 or visit their website.

Corporate Coordinated Graffiti Abatement Pilot (CCGAP)

Courtesy of the City of Calgary


In November 2009, City Council provided additional funds to assist private property owners who are victims of graffiti. Graffiti is defined in the Community Standards Bylaw as "words, figures, letters, drawings, or stickers applied, scribbled, scratched, etched, sprayed or attached on or to any surface". Statistics show that if graffiti is removed within 24 hours the chances of it reoccuring are greatly reduced. Owners can paint over the graffiti, obtain one of a number of removal products available on the market or hire a contractor. When served with a remedial notice, owners have 14 days to remove graffiti from their property.If you are not able to remove the graffiti yourself, you can request assistance from the Corporate Coordinated Graffiti Abatement Program (CCGAP). Property owners must sign a waiver authorizing city employees, contractors and/or agents to enter the property and provide graffiti removal services.  The graffiti removal services are free of charge to the property owner. However, the City reserves the right to decline services in exceptional circumstances. The City cannot provide a time frame for graffiti removal.If you are a victim of graffiti or want to report graffiti, call 3-1-1. To report graffiti in progress, call 9-1-1.


Volunteers tackle graffiti on 17 Avenue during a graffiti clean-up in 2002.