Graffiti artists in the Halifax Regional Municipality may someday be provided with an alternative to illegally splashing their work across private or city-owned property.

At last night’s meeting of Halifax Regional Council, the city’s Graffiti Task Force recommended HRM adopt a formal registry that would allow artists to sign up and practice their craft legally through city-commissioned murals.

“Graffiti vandals have told me that they feel they have the right to showcase their work,” said Coun. Linda Mosher, who chairs the task force and recently returned from a trip to see how New York City is dealing with graffiti.

 

“With a registry, any graffiti artist that wanted to could go online and register and be given a legitimate opportunity to showcase their art.”

Long considered a blight on HRM’s urban landscape, graffiti has been the subject of numerous debates at city hall. The Graffiti Task Force was created in 2007 to address the issue, and is required to submit a report to council each year that outlines its progress.

Last night, councillors voted to accept the latest report, but were not asked to approve any suggestions it contained — including the proposed registry.

One change that will undoubtedly occur, however, is an amendment to the municipal charter that would make it harder for private citizens to avoid cleaning up graffiti on their property.

Several councillors said the change, expected to come into effect this spring, will simply punish the victims.

“I’ve had several calls from citizens and business owners who say they’re just appalled that we’re doing this,” said Coun. Dawn Sloane. “We’re making people look like criminals when they’ve done nothing wrong.”

Mosher assured her the city would simply issue a notice to the property owner, and there would be no fines or charges filed against them if they failed to tidy up.

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