Halton Hills releases action plan for war on graffiti

About three months after Halton Hills Council declared war on graffiti, the Town has revealed its strategy to address the issue.

The Graffiti Action Plan, which was approved by council during its meeting yesterday (April 17), includes a public education campaign the Town intends to undertake on the topic.

Alex Hilson questions Catherine McLeod, manager of culture, equity, diversity and inclusion. Town of Halton Hills

The plan also details potential future initiatives that are subject to 2024 budget approval, such as funding for private property owners to remove graffiti and the creation of graffiti-focused art programs, like a designated location for graffiti art.

“This is certainly a large issue in Ward 1 (Acton),” noted Councillor Alex Hilson.

Much of the plan outlined in the report to council is leveraging already existing policies. The Public Art Program and the Public Art Master Plan are among those. 

The public education portion of the plan aims to help residents understand: 

  • What is graffiti and what isn’t
  • Ways to report vandalism
  • Preventative methods
  • The Town’s graffiti management plan.

The other side of the coin is engagement with the private sector. Town staff has reached out to utilities and service providers in the community to explore options around incorporating public art into their infrastructure. 

At yesterday’s meeting, Councillor Jane Fogal recounted a walk she took with staff to the Mountainview Road bridge. At the time, they found a piece of graffiti, leading Fogal to ask Town Public Art Coordinator Glodeane Brown during the meeting, “Does it count as art or graffiti?”
Brown said If there’s art that’s not sanctioned by the Town or the Public Art Advisory Board, the board would review it and make a decision on whether it’s art or graffiti.

The philosophical question of what constitutes art and what’s vandalism hung in the air. Fogal told HaltonHillsToday that she thinks “all art is in the eye of the beholder” and this is a “difficult call.” 

“You wonder who does make the call. Certainly, I don’t think it should be councillors,” Fogal said. “I think that’s why we have recruited a public art advisory group of people who have spent more time thinking about these things and seeing how it’s handled in other municipalities.” 

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