Concerned citizens are sounding the alarm because the Bow River’s weir is becoming a favorite target of graffiti vandals.
Sandy Stead, a member of the City of Calgary’s Weir Management Committee, said since Parks Foundation Calgary took over responsibility for the weir, graffiti has exploded in the area now dubbed Harvie Passage.
“The wall of the weir, where the graffiti is, was not open to the public,” she said.
“It used to be the weir, you couldn’t get to that wall, now you can.”
The Harvie Passage project was funded by Alberta Environment and the city to make the deadly waterway, formerly dubbed the “drowning machine,” into a white-water playground.
Stead said before the foundation took over management of the weir, members of the Inglewood community took a harder stance against graffiti, especially on the south side of the river.
“Now we just see it escalating, especially in the area of the railway bridge and the weir,” she said.
Although some fences were erected, people took them down, Stead said.
As well, an emergency phone that was at the weir has been removed, preventing people from using it to report suspicious activity, she said.
Stead said pressure from the paddling community led the public to think the weir is open for recreational use.
“They want a facility within the city to teach and play,” said the volunteer, who claims security was largely ignored by officials.
“There’s nothing in that area to stop people from just doing what they want.”
Saba Gnanakumar of Alberta Environment said the ministry is aware of the graffiti problem mainly on the wall that’s visible from Deerfoot Tr., as well as on some safety signs erected in the area.
“It’s a new phenomenon, due to the modifications made (in the weir) people can access the area easily,” said Gnanakumar.
He said maintenance crews paint over graffiti when new ones are spotted, but sometimes it takes a few days.
Because the area is public land “it’s very difficult to restrict access to people,” Gnanakumar said.
The Calgary Sun
Thu Oct 6 2011
Byline: RENATO GANDIA,CALGARY SUN