Southside warehouse owner fed up with graffiti

Barb Sweet
Published on June 17, 2014
Brian Walsh (left), owner of a warehouse on Southside Road which was the target of graffiti vandals over the weekend, explains his dilemma to RNC street patrol officer Const. Snelgrove at the facility Tuesday morning. Walsh said the acts of vandalism that have plagued his property on numerous occasions have cost him several hundred dollars to have the graffiti painted over. He is hoping police can identify and prosecute the graffiti makers.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A warehouse’s prime spot on the south side of St. John’s harbour makes the eyesore graffiti more irksome for owner Brian Walsh.

“It’s a focal point overlooking the harbour,” Walsh said Tuesday, after he made yet another report to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary after vandals covered the front of the building — one of the first that cruise ships see when entering St. John’s harbour — with graffiti tags.

“It looks bad, especially in the summer.”

He tries to keep the building clean and tidy, but every year it seems to be hit by graffiti vandals, some years worse than others.

The graffiti looks nothing like art to Walsh, nor does it make any sensible statement. Rather, it’s a nuisance and torment.

 “It’s a mess. If they had to paint the whole building with the Newfoundland flag or something, then yes,” he said.

Cleaning costs

Last year, Walsh said, he spent about $800 hiring contractors to paint over graffiti, and has painted over some of it himself in the past, but the 50-feet-high building can be too much for him to tackle.

“With my own time I must have spent $2,000 (repainting it),” Walsh said. “It’s taking away from other things.”

Not only is the graffiti vandalism, he said, whoever is doing it is putting themselves in peril as they go higher with their spray-can messages.

“They get on the roof. If they ever fall off, they will kill themselves,” he said.

Walsh has tried putting security on the building, moving the gate, adding signage, lighting and cutting back trees, to no avail.

“It’s continuous. It stopped one summer,” he said.

This latest incident must have taken a couple of hours, as the whole front and side of the building were covered, he said.

Several arrests

Last year, vandals stole the Newfoundland flag from the building.

One time he caught people on the site, but they threw beer bottles at him.

The building is used as storage for construction equipment.

RNC Const. Steve Curnew said there hasn’t been much in the way of graffiti complaints in the city so far this year.

But there were several graffiti artist arrests last year and the symbols on Walsh’s building will be compared to  images on file to see if they match.

Tags are often unique to individual artists.