New vinyl coating aims to reduce graffiti

Traffic signal control boxes along a graffiti-heavy stretch of Bank Street are getting a makeover in an effort to reduce vandalism in Ottawa.

Twenty-three control boxes in the area between Queen Street South and Riverdale Avenue will be covered in a patterned vinyl wrap as part of a one-year pilot project, the city announced today.

“Graffiti is an ongoing and expensive maintenance issue in most major cities and Ottawa is no different,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “By finding innovative ways to reduce graffiti, we all benefit from not only a more beautiful city, but significant cost savings related to removing graffiti on public property.

Each box will be coated with an anti-graffiti sealant that allows for quick and easy graffiti removal. It was previously used to some success as part of graffiti management strategies in Surrey and Burnaby, B.C. Canada Post has also recently installed vinyl covers on their mailboxes to deter graffiti.

Mayor Watson and Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson, chair of the city’s transportation committee, tested the coating by drawing on the box with a Sharpie marker. Their drawings easily wiped off. Wilkinson said the boxes have been tested and anything can be cleaned off, including spray paint.

“Traffic control boxes are one of the main targets to be tagged in our community,” said Watson. “Presently, the cost of graffiti removal for traffic removal on traffic control boxes is over $35,000 each and every year.”

In 2011, graffiti removal on traffic signal boxes in the pilot project area alone cost the city $4,460.

In the pilot project, coating each box will cost $500, as the work will be done on site. Wilkinson said the cost will be greatly reduced if picked up for all 1,100 traffic control boxes in the city because they will be manufactured with the coating. The coating has a four-year warranty.

“Cities across Canada are exploring different ways to end vandalism and tagging of city-owned assets,” said Wilkinson.  “As part of the city’s ongoing graffiti prevention program, I am confident we will have the same success in Ottawa.”