Fighting crime with art

Downtown mural program part of effort to deter graffiti

Turning a building into a work of art will deter graffiti and can even boost a community's economic prospects, an artist said Monday.

Alex Moir-Porteous has spent the last four weeks turning the alley wall of Karateristics jewellery shop on Victoria Street into a rural landscape complete with a log cabin.

He expects the mural, one of many planned for the downtown, to liven up the alleyway and act as a deterrent to taggers, said Moir-Porteous.

"It's very likely that they will leave art alone," he said.

He was commissioned to do the work by the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, who hope to decorate the downtown with several more during the next few years.

Karateristics owner Doug Andrews wanted his building to be painted and even paid for the paint. Moir-Porteous said murals can increase property value and, in a town like Chemainus, have even contributed to an economic turnaround.

"It has made the place a tourist attraction," he said. Vernon also has murals on downtown buildings.

The work has gone a little slower than Moir-Porteous had hoped. He said graffiti has been a problem this summer and his co-workers on the project have to paint over the unwanted artwork.

"We will be finished this week," he said.

Businesses on both shores are being proactive in dealing with transients and graffiti. Gay Pooler, manager of the KCBIA, said the mural program will make alleyways more appealing.

"We're hoping to get two to three murals done this summer," Pooler told a meeting of the Co-ordiinated Enforcement Task Force.

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