Three youth have been employed to remove graffiti from businesses in downtown Whitehorse.
Wearing T-shirts that read, “Graffiti Task Force,” Jacky Ward, Justine Blanchard and Dave George will also talk with their peers in hopes of stemming the growing problem.
The one-month pilot project is a collaboration between the Justice department, Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the Youth of Today Society.
“Over the past few months, we’ve been hearing increasingly from businesses and citizens about graffiti, particularly around the downtown area,” said Justice Minister Marian Horne.
One of the most effective ways to combat the spread of graffiti is to clean it quickly and regularly, she said.
The Youth of Today Society will assist and supervise the youth.
Working closely with the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the project will help businesses stay graffiti free during the height of the tourist season.
“Businesses have already started to contact us,” said Rick Karp, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
No one knows exactly how much businesses spend each year scrubbing and painting over the “tags” that appear throughout the downtown commercial area.
But one business has already had to repaint three times this year, said Karp.
The city spends $30,000 to $40,000 each year on graffiti cleanup. The youth will be paid $3,500 for their services.
The businesses will provide the cleaning supplies and paints.
No major charges have yet been made in regards to graffiti, the penalty for which depends on the amount of damage caused.
“The youth in town probably know better who’s doing it,” said Karp.
“By having these people involved, we hope that they can get the message out to those that are doing it.”
Art makes you feel good and has been asked for, said Vicki Durrant executive director of the Youth of Today Society.
However, some people consider graffiti an art form.
Currently there are no locations in the city where aspiring graffiti artists can display their work legally, though there have been requests for such a canvas.
It’s something that is being considered, Karp said.
For now, the graffiti task force will try to spread the word and help clean up after those that don’t listen.