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Graffiti bylaw irks city’s biggest tagger

<p>One of the city’s most prolific street artists is lashing out at a proposed bylaw that will fine businesses for not removing graffiti tags in a timely fashion.</p>

Street artist would like to see social programs for kids


One of the city’s most prolific street artists is lashing out at a proposed bylaw that will fine businesses for not removing graffiti tags in a timely fashion.





Property owners who don’t paint over graffiti that’s plastered on the walls of their business could face fines between $100 and $250.





“I really don’t think the city should be imposing these fines on businesses,” the graffiti artist told Metro on the condition of anonymity.





“I think they should be taking a more active role in social programs for kids because a lot of that stuff, in my opinion at least, is kids running around at night with nothing better to do.”





The artist is best known for the thousands of pop art stencils in 50 different designs he’s spray-painted around the city’s downtown core and Old Strathcona since 2003.





His work includes headshots in black paint of Mexican wrestlers, Star Trek characters, and 1980s icons like Michael Jackson and Tom Selleck.





There’s a way to find a balance between legitimate street artists and the interests of the city, he said, since he only tags public property or abandoned buildings.





“What this bylaw is really pointing towards are those 14-year-old kids that are running around with cans of paint and markers and willfully destroying private property and not really caring,” he said. “Any graffiti artist who is truly an artist knows those boundaries and won’t step over them.”





City officials have stated that, if the bylaw is passed, it’s likely that property owners would only be fined if they consistently ignore clean-up orders.





The proposal was passed by the city’s community services committee yesterday and will go to city council for approval this fall.





Mayor Stephen Mandel has already defended the proposed bylaw, telling a local radio station that it will help clean up the city.





“It’s one thing to say that we’re going to catch everybody that’s putting graffiti on, but, you know, we won’t,” he said. “If you own a building you should be responsible enough to make sure that you take care of that.”


 
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