The program

Tags and graffiti prevention and support program

Ever since the tags and graffiti prevention and support program was introduced, complaints about illegal tags and graffiti have dropped by more than 60%! The tags and graffiti prevention and support program has three components: prevention, clean-up and by-laws. Each of these involves various measures designed to help residents comply with the municipal by-law on the control of tags and graffiti.

Difference between tags and graffiti

It is important to know the difference between graffiti and tags. Graffiti is an art form, whereas tags are the consequences of vandalism.

Graffiti is a series of images painted on a wall. Other surfaces, such as bus walls, phone booths, bus shelters, mail boxes and urban furniture are also used.

These images could have a social, political, religious, advertising or decorative purpose, and are considered urban art.

Illegal graffiti is a form of graffiti that, despite its artistic content, is painted on an unauthorized surface.

Tags are personal signatures, often pseudonyms used by a person and painted in different places. They may be simple inscriptions that delimit a gang's territory. Tags identify the author or authors, to whom they are exclusive. They sometimes include hateful, obscene and offensive inscriptions.

Introduction

Gatineau's tags and graffiti prevention and support program earned the 2009 Mérite Ovation municipale award from the Union des municipalités du Québec in the community development and social housing category. This program has three components: prevention, clean-up and by-laws.

Prevention

The prevention component aims to improve understanding of the phenomenon of tags and graffiti among residents and to promote graffiti that is respectful of public and private property. Its objective is to inform, increase awareness and encourage graffiti as an urban art form.

Objective no. 1: Inform the public and young people about the tags and graffiti prevention and support program by continuously reviewing and assessing the phenomenon in Gatineau.

Objective no. 2: Make residents and young people aware of the program's benefits by validating legal graffiti.

Objective no. 3: Promote graffiti as an urban art form.

Clean-up

The clean-up component is tangible in that it involves all of the parties¾municipal, public and private¾in the battle against tags and graffiti vandalism. Swift clean-up of illegal tags and graffiti is a critical and essential measure in preventing repeat offences. Given that both Gatineau and residents are victims of this type of vandalism, clean-up is a shared responsibility and requires a collective effort in order to limit the proliferation of illegal tags and graffiti and to discourage the perpetrators.

The by-law

The by-law component concerns the application of the municipal by-law on the control of illegal tags and graffiti adopted in December 2010. This component refers to the application of by-law no. 242-2010 (in French only), with which residents are required to comply. The new by-law stipulates that residents are responsible for and required to eliminate any tag or graffiti on their property unless they have an authorization for its presence.

Objective no. 1: Enforce the application of the by-law by distributing the notice and authorizations.

Measures to help residents

The following measures have been introduced to help residents comply with the new by-law:

  • A person has been hired to help residents obtain an authorization for applying graffiti or to eliminate, remove or clean a surface onto which an illegal tag or graffiti has been applied. This person has been available to hear and set in motion the steps that will meet their respective requirements,
  • A kit with tips and advice has been distributed to residents who receive a notice of awareness, and
  • An information kit about the tags and graffiti prevention and support program has been prepared.

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