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Keepsix Collective - murals 'r us

Ottawa mural consultation

Consultation on proposed mural initiatives under the Ottawa Graffiti Management Plan

The City of Ottawa sent out a request this week for feedback on their proposed mural initiatives. They seems to be heading in the right direction, and include an annual budget  of $50,000. We'll see what the final proposal in August looks like.

As many know in my work I focus on murals done by local graffiti artists, using a mix of lettering styles and other artistic elements. While any mural will deter tagging- whether done by graffiti artists or a local public school class or professional painter - using local graffiti artists gives them a way to work with property owners as part of the solution, to showcase their art, to contribute to their community, to redirect their efforts into mural work, to have the time to develop their talents and mentor others, and to make money.

I'm not sure who this request was sent to, I did receive forwarded copies from several of my contacts. I couldn't find a copy on the public City of Ottawa website, so I've attached a copy of the comment sheet here. Please take a look, pass it around, and submit by April 17/09. And do plan on attending their presentation to Council, in August, to show your involvement face to face.  Download Community consultation Ottawa murals

I have several concerns with the proposal, including:

  • allowing (and funding) murals on residential properties are not mentioned,
  • $10,000 per project is 1/5 of the total budget and I think way too much for one mural,
  • while it's great that a permit is no longer needed, there should be guidelines or a process to ensure that the bylaws officers won’t show up after a mural is done and declare it is graffiti and has to go,
  • the Allocation committee “mix” needs to be defined, to ensure it has a balanced representation, including the art community and youth,
  • the program should not just target youth that are at risk or unemployed,
  •  while staff has said they have conducted research on mural programs and other aspects of this, more details on this should be made available. With their stated biases in this area there is a risk that this research has been targeted to enforce a particular bias, with sources fed mainly by selective research summaries from other like-minded groups,
  • they refer to a "4E" model, they missed Toronto's 5th E - Economic Development, as shown here on the Toronto Police Services site, with links to some good resources.  Ottawa staff also missed meeting with Cst. Scott Mills in Toronto, the TPS Legal Graffiti Art Coordinator.

I'll add my actual comment form later in here.

The cover letter is as follows:

Consultation on proposed mural initiatives under the Ottawa Graffiti Management Plan

Graffiti vandalism continues to be a concern in the City of Ottawa. The presence of graffiti can create feelings of fear and cause people to perceive their neighbourhoods as unsafe. Outdoor murals have proven to be an effective tool to manage graffiti vandalism, enhance beautification, support arts and culture, and contribute to economic development.    Our own city has achieved success in implementing outdoor mural programs in areas such as the former City of Vanier, as well as in developing neighbourhoods such as Westboro.

Transforming Ottawa

In May 2007, City Council approved an enhanced Graffiti Management Strategy based on the widely recognized “4E” model of Eradication, Empowerment, Education and Enforcement.   The Strategy includes initiatives such as implementing additional Zero Tolerance Zones, focusing on Volunteer Programs and enacting a Graffiti Management By-law. At that time, Council also expressed an interest in outdoor graffiti prevention murals, and asked staff to investigate the City of Toronto’s Graffiti Transformation Program.

Since that time, staff has conducted research on mural programs from across North America including Toronto, New York City, Philadelphia, Halifax and Vancouver.   Staff has also compiled data to determine barriers, community interest, needs, resources and opportunities for graffiti prevention murals that currently exist within Ottawa.

For example, Ottawa’s Permanent Signs on Private Property By-law 2005-439, which regulates signs such as murals, was amended in June 2008 to simplify the process for implementing murals and to expand upon the areas of the city in which they are permitted.  Those amendments serve to encourage the painting of murals as a graffiti prevention technique, among other things. 

Community Comment

The attached comment sheet outlines the recommendations identified to date with respect to outdoor mural initiatives under the Graffiti Management Strategy.  A full report will be presented to Committee and Council in August 2009.  All members of the public who respond to this request for comments will be notified of the Committee and Council dates, times and locations.

We appreciate the time taken to review and provide comments on the mural-related recommendations. Please feel free to comment on the recommendations and provide feedback that will further strengthen our plan.  Please also feel free to share this document with others who may be interested in providing feedback.  Please submit your feedback no later than April 24th to [email protected].

Further information on the Graffiti Management Strategy and the Permanent Signs on Private Property By-law 2005-439 can be found at


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