Many public buildings in Oliver have been hit with vandalism containing concerning messages in recent weeks. The most recent graffiti done on the side of a public washroom on June 12, 20202 has Oliver Parks and Recreation searching for solutions to this ongoing problem. (Oliver Parks and Recreation / Facebook)

‘Distressing’ graffiti has South Okanagan town searching for answers

Racial slurs and disturbing messages has community concerned for well-being of youth

A recent uptick of vandalism has Oliver Parks and Recreation staff perplexed and looking for solutions.

The town has seen a concerning amount of disturbing messages written on various public buildings and property in recent weeks. Many of the messages contain racial slurs or political messages, said recreation manager Carol Sheridan.

Sheridan said there’s been a lot of graffiti in the last couple years but called this year a “particularly rough start for graffiti this spring.” She said this may be because people are bored and have less to do due to COVID-19.

The vandalism itself is frustrating, but Sheridan is more concerned with the content of the messages.

“The messages that are coming up are just getting, in my opinion, more and more concerning,” said Sheridan. “There’s definitely been lots of racial slurs, as well as the usual ‘F’ this and ‘F’ that.”

She added that some obscene images have also been added. “Just because someone knows how to draw [them] does not mean it’s art.”

READ MORE: Keremeos Legion victim of vulgar graffiti

Simply painting over each vandalized building is what the town has previously done, but this doesn’t solve any of the underlying issues, said Sheridan.

Sheridan would like to see art such as murals put on some public buildings in hopes that it would prevent them from being tagged.

Parks and Recreation staff are hopeful that the town to will create some sort of task force to combat this growing problem.

To find a more permanent solution to the graffiti problem Oliver Parks and Recreation has reached out to the community for help via social media.

Some of the possible solutions that have already been suggested by residents and staff include:

  • Tracking paint sales and requiring ID to purchase paint
  • Reaching out to youth artists to commission public art
  • Creating a dedicated graffiti wall at the skate park where people can write whatever they want
  • Install cameras in commonly tagged places and punish people caught tagging buildings
  • Have artists paint murals
  • Restorative justice programs that would work with community organizations and schools to have vandals paint over the graffiti themselves

Overall, Sheridan said she was mostly concerned for the well-being of the people doing the vandalism due to the disturbing nature of some of the messages. “People are already worried about the kids in our community… I think those types of messages really struck people as sad. It could be a call for help.”

To contact Oliver Parks and Recreation staff with possible solutions email carol@oliverrecreation.ca.

READ MORE: Crime Stoppers seek information on ‘C the moon’ graffiti



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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