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Significant spike in graffiti around Toronto

Last Updated Dec 20, 2017 at 11:54 am EDT

Whether you think it’s public art or a stain on the city’s urban landscape, there has been a major surge in complaints about graffiti on private property in Toronto this year compared to last year.

Data obtained by CityNews shows there were 1,125 complaints to the city about graffiti on private property in 2016. From January to November this year there have been 1,738 complaints. That’s an increase of 54 per cent.

Meanwhile, according to data from 311, there has been a 15 per cent decrease in complaints for graffiti on public property. There were 1,248 complaints in 2016 and 1,052 so far in 2017.

Toronto spends approximately $400,000 annually on graffiti vandalism removal on public property through the graffiti vandalism removal contract.

Recently there has been uproar and criticism over graffiti that was scrawled on an historic statue near the University of Toronto campus.

“The Unknown Student” was erected in the 1960s outside what was once Rochdale College. Recently the word “crush” was spray-painted in white along the statue’s arm.

“[That] obviously reflects somebody’s view, but I don’t think it’s appropriate,” one passerby told CityNews.

What does the tag mean?

“Crush [is] an alias that the person goes by when they write,” said Chris Godfrey, of Tour Guys Toronto, a company that offers graffiti and other guided tours of the city. “Generally speaking, the more you tag, the bigger the tag…  the more respect — street cred — you gain in the graffiti community.

“We have some of the best artists in the world working in our city, and hopefully the misguided actions of one of the lesser known and less respected writers in Toronto won’t hurt the scene.”

The graffiti on “The Unknown Student” was scrubbed clean and power-washed Wednesday morning and there does not appear to be any permanent damage on the bronze statue.

It’s unclear who will pay for the removal.