A swimming pool/aquatic centre complex in British Columbia, Canada, claims they''ve made some quantum leaps — both morally and financially — in their anti-graffiti programs.
Sure, large cities and towns have major graffiti issues, but smaller towns, such as North Cowichan, do as well.
What has happened in this Eastern city on Vancouver Island?
Essentially, they''ve taken major steps that have made a huge impact on graffiti prevention and positively impacted their graffiti removal budgets.
Bring In The Technology
Cleaners attribute this impact to a new anti-graffiti coating that is guaranteed to last for as long as 10 years.
But, the news gets even better; when taggers do their "thing," maintenance personnel are now able to remove the graffiti without the use of chemicals by using low-pressure water rinse only.
No chemicals, solvents or paint strippers? No painting over the unsightly tag? Reduce large graffiti removal budgets? Actual easy removal? And added to this, less tagging?
Yes, all this and more, according to officials at the North Cowichan Aquatic Centre, a new municipal facility replete with a wave pool and water slide, among other popular amenities.
But, even before the old centre was replaced by a new one, it was anticipated that one thing would remain the same.
That is, graffiti continuing to be targeted on a regular basis to the outer surfaces of the building and decorative walls, whether it was puppy love notes scribbled by the students from the school across the street or more serious graffiti applied with a vengeance by roaming taggers.
"We anticipated having to deal with continuing graffiti problems even before the new facility was built," says Randy Busch, maintenance supervisor of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, "and dutifully allocated budgets for removal. We mentally and financially prepped ourselves to have to remove the graffiti and other materials used by taggers on a regular basis. However, one of our people had experience from a previous job with a new graffiti coating. The new coating not only claimed easy removal with water only, but also was backed by a full 10-year performance warranty before re-coating would be required."
The benefits to use the new anti-graffiti system far outweighed considering other coatings or alternative measures.
Reasons cited include that the coating:
- Can be applied by brush or sprayed on — at this facility, it was sprayed on
- Can be applied to a wide variety of surfaces without changing their original look
- Enables graffiti to be removed with water only
- Is verified to be consumer and environmentally safe
- Is permanent and does not come off when graffiti is removed
- Can be easily re-applied and maintained if it is ever damaged.
Bring In The Experts
An expert was called in shortly after the Centre was completed.
They were retained to first paint all the concrete and then apply an anti-graffiti coating to just the walls of the building where the graffiti would most likely be targeted.
Now, the centre is considering bringing the experts back in to coat other areas where graffiti most likely would be targeted, such as walls, seating areas, platforms and other surfaces.
"Not without a bit of skepticism," recalls Busch, noting that the variety of surfaces, including the cement walls of the centre, stone and brick on other graffiti-prone facades and areas, made graffiti removal from these surfaces seem unlikely.
What about the results?
Because the coatings repel most graffiti applications or can be wiped off with water, "several positive things happened," says Busch. "For the most part, taggers became discouraged and the incidence of graffiti on most parts of our facility has decreased dramatically. Coupled to this, in that we are able to quickly and completely remove the graffiti, taggers appear to have given up."
In addition to reducing and/or easily removing any graffiti in coated areas, both efforts and costs for dealing with graffiti have dropped, enabling maintenance personnel to keep the facility looking new.
Now, Centre officials are addressing graffiti problems inside the building, seeking to achieve the same results they did with the coating on the outside of the structure.
This will pose no problems or safety hazards for the Centre since the coating dries quickly without any lingering odor.
Graffiti removal and prevention continues to escalate throughout North America, costing cities, towns and businesses — as well as taxpayers — millions of dollars each year.
Today, however, it is estimated that the Aquatic Centre can save as much as 70 percent over previous graffiti prevention and removal costs the first year and for each and every year thereafter.
Ross Sklar is chairman of the board for Seicoat Corporation (www.seicoat.com) in Los Angeles. Seicoat manufactures high-performance, environmentally friendly graffiti removal products and anti-graffiti coatings and distributes through a network of franchises that provides graffiti and mold prevention and restoration services. A graduate of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, Sklar is renowned in the development and commercialization of technology in the chemical sector and specializes in licensing technology and mergers and acquisitions.