Craig and Raynelle Cottrell moved to Selkirk last spring and have plenty of positives to share about their new hometown, from quiet morning walks, frequent wildlife sightings and easy access to the Red River for fishing.
There was one negative – a couple of graffiti tags that showed up on their property – but the City of Selkirk turned that negative into a positive recently, much to Craig’s delight.
The city’s Anti-Graffiti Removal Program dispatched an employee who showed up at the home and after Craig signed a waiver, removed the tags. For free.
Craig fired off an email to the city to express his appreciation.
“I came home from walking the dog yesterday and a young man in a Selkirk truck was in front of my house,” Craig wrote.
“He came up to me and said he noticed our graffiti and he could attempt to remove it.”
The city employee told Craig he’d have the graffiti removed that same day.
“I did some running around after work and came home to find the graffiti was completely gone and he did it in a way that you could not tell it was pressure washed,” Craig said.
“We’re very happy with his service and our choice to move here….he did a great job.”
See it, call it in
The long-standing program is a free service the city provides to residents and businesses. You can call in and report graffiti on your property, or if the city notices it or someone else calls it in, the city will approach you. You must sign a waiver, and the waiver remains in effect as long as you own the property.
Kristy Hill, the city’s Director of Protective Services, said city staff are always on the lookout for graffiti and aim to remove it as quickly as possible.
“Leaving graffiti breeds more graffiti,” Hill said.
“We try and take it down within 24 hours. That’s the goal.”
In 2019 the city received 172 calls for graffiti removal and in 2020 it fell to just 40, in large part due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far this year, there have been 66 successful removals, 15 on private property and 51 in public spaces.
Hill said she encourages people to call graffiti in – it’s a free service and it benefits more than just the home or business owner directly affected.
“If you don’t remove graffiti immediately it can make the community look unsafe and encourages loitering and more graffiti,” Hill said.
“Graffiti can make people uneasy and have a negative feeling about their community so we want people to call us and tell us when they see it. If we work together it benefits the entire city.”
In the Cottrell case, someone, not Cottrell, saw the graffiti and called it into the city. Once approval from the homeowner is secured, the Anti-Graffiti team moves in to get the job done as fast as possible.
It’s a year-round program but since the summer months are busier there’s a dedicated staff person during those months.
Hill said they monitor graffiti “hot spots”, some of which are public spaces, and get to those as soon as they see the tags.
Reduce the chance of being tagged
The program has several ways to remove graffiti including pressure washing, graffiti removal wipes and chemical wash and can remove graffiti from brick, stucco and vinyl siding. If painting is required, the city will do it but the cost of the paint and other materials will be borne by the property owner.
Hill says there are things property owners can do to reduce the chance of graffiti and the city’s website offers these tips:
- In order to prevent graffiti it is important to keep all areas clean and well maintained.
- Increase lighting on your property and install motion detector lights where possible.
- On your walls choose protective anti-graffiti coatings and use clinging vegetation or thick/thorny bushes to eliminate large writing surfaces.
- Lastly, the installation of a fence is a very effective method of deterring graffiti taggers from your property.
Removal of graffiti aligns with the city’s Strategic Plan, which has as Priority 1 keeping Selkirk ‘a vibrant, safe and healthy community’, and calls for the city to revitalize Selkirk’s image.