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Update: Troubling and persistent graffiti mars Mission park for more than a year

One of Calgary’s most beautiful inner-city views has been marred by persistent graffiti and a resident said it impacts the area’s quality of life.

The pedestrian bridge leading from Mission along 21 Avenue SW into Lindsay Park provides inner-city residents a panoramic view of the city skyline. It also offers direct access to the Elbow River.

But the bridge has also become a target for taggers. Within hours of the City of Calgary painting over the handrail of the bridge where the graffiti is often located, the tags are back.

“It does take away because if you’re walking across that bridge, you have the option to either see this beautiful river with the downtown backdrop, or you see these profanities and horrible messages, and you can’t not look at that,” said Pam Armstrong, a Mission resident.

The message painted on the handrail this week of “buy Nenshi a Pilsner next time you see him,” is on the less offensive end of the spectrum, many messages have not been as pleasant.

A message from March 15 was written on the bridge calling for the rape of Indigenous women. Profanity, sexual content, and hate messages have not been uncommon during the past year.

Graffiti on the pedestrian bridge from 21 Avenue SW into Lindsay Park on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

City forced to repaint bridge dozens of times in past year

Armstrong, who travels to Lindsay Park on a near-daily basis, said that the graffiti began showing up in greater volume over the past year.

She said that previously most of the graffiti was under the bridges into Lindsay Park.

The City of Calgary in a statement provided to LiveWire Calgary said that in the past year they’ve sent crews to remove vandalism on the bridge 32 times in the past year. They said that they didn’t have to employ contractors at additional cost to remove the graffiti. Although, the city said, it takes about an hour of a crew’s time to repair the vandalism.

“Much like how Transit budgets for repairs to vandalized bus shelters, Roads budgets for needed repairs caused by vandalism on its assets,” said the statement.

“This includes vandalism to all 400 bridges, as well as underpasses, sound walls, streetlights etc.”

An estimated $1,500 in paint and paint remover has been used to remove graffiti from the bridge.

The City of Calgary said that the Roads department invests in security cameras to keep vandalism down, and to provide evidence when the Calgary Police Service makes an arrest.

Decrease in the quality of life for residents

In the past 12 months, Mission residents have made 66 calls to 311 for the removal of graffiti. Other residents like Armstrong have turned to posting images of the graffiti on social media and tagging the City of Calgary.

“They’ve been really good in terms of Twitter and acknowledging, or saying that they’ve filled out a service request for it,” she said.

Still, said Armstrong, the presence of the vandalism has decreased her quality of life when using the park.

“When it’s free and clear, you just have this beautiful view to look at and it’s such a mental health plus,” she said.

She said that the vandalism ruins that mental health aspect, and the enjoyment for everyone using the park.

“It’s just the contents of it, you know. For some reason they feel it’s necessary. I don’t know why. I don’t get it.”

The Lindsay Park Pedestrian Bridge at 21 Avenue SW on Thursday, March 24, 2022. The City of Calgary removed all of the graffiti and vandalism from the bridge, following complaints from residents in Mission. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Update: city takes action on graffiti

To the relief of residents, the City of Calgary removed all of the graffiti on the pedestrian bridge overnight on Wednesday.

In a statement sent to LiveWire Calgary, the city said that a single city crew employee was able to remove the vandalism.

Going forward, the city does not currently have any plans to step up enforcement at the location.

“We don’t have any plans to install cameras or have increased security for this location as both those things would cost more than we already spend.”