Graffiti scrawled on Edmonton’s walls is about to be wiped clean, and business owners are footing the bill with a little help from the city.

Gratuitous tags are a property owner’s problem, and under the Capital City Clean Up program, it’s subject to a $250 fine if it’s not erased.

“We’re looking at it as a shared responsibility,” said program manager Sharon Chapman.

Owners who agree to keep their property graffiti-free for one year can apply for a city grant of $500 to cushion costs of removal. The city has set aside $90,000 for the project.

The second draft of an intricate skull bordered by roses marks Atomic Zombie’s south wall on 124 Street. Though the tattoo shop was given the go-ahead for the mural art piece, an ill-informed do-gooder splattered white paint on it in the night, staff said.

“The whole point was to show that graffiti can be well-placed art,” said assistant manager Alissa Thompson.

“I guess it was someone offended by it, though we tried to pick something that would be kosher for everybody.”

Sanctioned space for street artists to scrawl is limited in Edmonton. Chapman said officials realize there is a great distinction between street art and vandalism, and the city is working with the Edmonton Arts Council to find more space for graf artists to paint freely.

Under the city’s graffiti bylaw, the person responsible for the white-out at Atomic Zombie could, ironically, be charged with vandalism, Chapman said, adding wall art will be green-lighted if it’s not offensive or gratuitous.

“We can understand that people don’t want the city to look junked-up, but that clearly isn’t the point of our mural,” Thompson said.

Nine tickets were issued to property owners for unsanctioned graffiti in 2008, resulting from 825 complaints.

Latest From ...