Anti-graffiti, mural programs on the chopping block
Mural and anti-graffiti programs that have been lauded for making Vancouver look better are on the chopping block as the city faces a $60 million budget shortfall.
"To see it cut would be a shame," said Marco Cornale, who owns Fratelli's Bakery, which sits next to a wall that had been the target of taggers -- until a mural was painted on it.
"It actually changes your perspective of where you're working, because it is a beautiful building," Cornale said.
The programs have been credited with a dramatic decrease in tagging throughout the city.
Michelle Barile of the Commercial Drive Business Society said that doesn't just improve the esthetics of the community, "but it also helps to keep it safe."
City council has not yet made any decisions.
Councillor Andrea Reimer said the programs are valuable, but "if keeping this program means shutting down a child-care centre for a year or five child-care centres, it would be hard not to vote for the child-care centres."
Transit police say they spend a million dollars a year on graffiti removal.
They warn that the moment the program is cut, it will be open season for taggers -- just in time for the Olympics.
"We all know that graffiti is the broken window theory. If we leave the graffiti, we show a city and a transit system that doesn't care," said Sgt. Wendy Hawthorne.
Meanwhile, the Red Fox program -- a program that has received $100,000 a year from the Vancouver Park Board to get inner-city kids active and having fun -- is also on the chopping block.
"The thing is they're valuable now for the kids who are in the program and the young adults who are in the program," said Jeff Malmgren of Active Communities Vancouver. "What they really are is an investment in the future of this community."
The Vancouver Park Board is scheduled to vote on more than $2 million in cuts Wednesday night.
With reports from CTV British Columbia's St. John Alexander and Stephen Smart