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Belleville city council creates graffiti task force

By Leah Vandenberg

It’s a problem wherever you go, but Belleville is trying to tackle it.

Belleville city council has created a task force to help clean up graffiti.

So far, they’ve educated people on their graffiti hotline. Councillor Jodie Jenkins said Twitter, Facebook, the city website and information pieces on city buses will all be tools used to encourage people to make the call.

“If they see graffiti, these are the steps you can take in order to get the ball rolling on what we do as far as cleaning it and monitoring the situation,” he said.

The task force is also working with the Youth Advisory Committee to develop a youth street team. The Youth Advisory Committee is intended to allow local youth to provide insight to city council on issues the younger generation feels need to be addressed. They will be tackling the issue of what the task force does with private property in the downtown.

“Our first goal is to start cleaning up the downtown core,” said Jenkins.

The clean-up of private property is different than city property, because private property has more responsibilities to be looked at.

“If we just took the initiative and cleaned a private business owner’s wall that was vandalized or tagged, they might come out and say that’s not the paint I wanted you to use, or that’s not the same paint… there’s liabilities we have to be cautious of,” said Jenkins.

The street team will introduce themselves to the businesses and hand them a brochure that explains what the team does. It leaves the decision up to the business owner.

“I think that youth seeing youth clean up sends the message we’re not supportive of graffiti or vandalism,” he said.

The goal of the task force is to have people call the hotline when they see graffiti in a certain area, and that city staff will go out to clean it up. There’s also a goal to have a deterrent for individuals who like to vandalize. Jenkins also acknowledges there are people who think they’re doing art, but on private property.

“Another thing we’ve discussed is how do we channel that artistic flare, and want to do something with their art. And say, maybe on the side of a building isn’t a good idea, maybe we need some outlets for them to do that as well,” said Jenkins.