At a press conference today, the mayor introduced a new weapon in his ongoing war on graffiti: your smartphone.
Rob Ford hates graffiti. He hates it so much that he’s willing to don coveralls, pick up a power washer and do his best to banish it from the streets of Toronto forever. He hates it so much that, blind with rage, he’s unable to discern the difference between tagging and street art. He hates it so much that he has willed into existence a new smartphone app that allows Torontonians to report unsightly graffiti for imminent clean-up by City workers.
Okay, so maybe that last one’s not completely accurate. Today, down an alleyway in Corso Italia, Mayor Ford was on hand with Davenport Ward 17 Councillor Cesar Palacio to unveil the launch of two new apps, See Click Fix and TDOT 311, which, as Ford says, will help improve government efficiency that the taxpayers deserve. “This is an example of friends helping friends, folks,” the mayor said, pointing to two people white-washing a tagged-up garage (see below). “We’re gonna get this city spotless—mark my words, the war on graffiti has just begun,” he continued in typical hyperbolic nature. Since the launch of Clean Toronto Together on April 4, over 4,000 square metres of graffiti have been eradicated so far, at a cost of roughly $50 per metre (paid by the taxpayer, it should be noted).
So how exactly do the new applications work? Downloadable through the City of Toronto website, the apps connect directly to 311 Toronto and alert city workers of unwanted graffiti. If it exists on city property, the workers will go out and clean it up in a timely fashion (though anything resembling hate speech will be cleaned up in less than 24 hours).
But how does this app help people with graffiti on their private property? Short answer: It doesn’t really. Sure, the graffiti will be reported to the city quicker than before, but it will still be up to the property owner to have that unwanted mess removed at their own expense.
And in a slightly contradictory turn of events, also launched today was the StreetARToronto initiative, a new program that counteracts graffiti and vandalism by raising awareness about street art. “Through community involvement, we are able to bring a sense of beauty and character to neighbourhoods,” Palacio said. Under this new program, grants will be available to help revitalize areas of different communities that have been vandalized by senseless graffiti, giving local and emerging street artists a chance to create colourful murals (apparently, a graffiti deterrent). But just how many of these murals will be reported with the new applications is anyone’s guess.