‘Simply vandalism’: Could designated art spaces in Huntsville solve the graffiti issue?

When Huntsville resident Dylan Maxwell looks at his home from the outside, he can’t help but notice the graffiti someone painted on it.

“I don’t like it at all. It looks like your desk from school when you scratch it and colour it in,” said Maxwell. ” I tried to take it off, but it was not easy. I would need something strong.”

The tagging is overtaking other places.

“They are also on the trees in my backyard, and there are more on Hunters Bay trails,” he said. “I don’t think things should be spray-painted on beautiful trails. It is probably not good for the trees, and the cans usually get tossed.”


Tagging is vandalism. Therefore, it is a crime.

Councillor Bob Stone said it is a problem in the town.

“Graffiti in public spaces, whether on rocks, buildings, sidewalks or other structures, is simply vandalism. It costs the taxpayers a great deal of money and staff time to remove it daily,” said Councillor Stone.

People must follow a series of steps to paint in public places legally.

“Before any art is allowed in public spaces, it is reviewed under the town’s art acquisition and display policy, the town then undergoes a public engagement exercise, and finally, the art and its location are decided by the town council,” he said.


“Huntsville does not currently have a designated space for “graffiti” or “tags,” and I doubt it would prevent it from happening throughout the municipality,” said Councillor Stone.

Huntsville artist Christine MacBean is a member of the Huntsville Art Society and has a different perspective.

“Opening more art spaces would be good for Huntsville and would be an excellent way to direct a different type of artistic expression,” she said. “There’s a variety of ways that you can allow that, and even other communities have created opportunities for people to do urban art, which reduces the tagging.”

MacBean was born and raised in Barrie, where she has participated in initiatives to mitigate vandalism in the city.

“We used to do a thing called ‘Paint the park,’ where graffiti artists within the city participate,” she said. “We painted the skate park in Barrie. There was no cost to the artists, the paint was provided, and we were given some parameters, like no profanity.”

“We painted the park every year. So, the artwork was renewed, drastically reducing the graffiti around the city,” said MacBean.

There is a difference between art and vandalism.

“I think what makes an artist is the desire to create something and will go for any medium. Urban art has a long history of not being recognized as a legitimate art form,” said MacBean. “I know a few urban artists who have their medium. But they don’t go around painting things illegally.”

Despite the number of tags in the town, they have yet to be reported.

“OPP in Huntsville has not received any recent reports of graffiti on the trails in the Huntsville area. If public members are concerned about vandalism or suspicious behaviour, they are encouraged to report to police by calling 1-888-310-1122,” said OPP media officer Dana Morris.

Julian Orlando Chaves is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Huntsville Forester. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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