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Forecast—cloudy with a light drizzle of anti-pipeline graffiti

June 24, 2016
Some of the anti-pipeline graffiti on the south side of 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue.

Some of the new graffiti on the south side of 1400 block of West Broadway.

Friday morning (June 24) there was light rain in Vancouver. This made me a bit concerned for the painting crew that I saw working on a strip of the Fairmont Building in the 700 block of West Broadway Avenue.

But it was the light drizzle of graffiti that I found in the 1400 block of West Broadway that really caught my attention.

After binning and cashing in returnable beverage containers first thing in the morning, I arrived back in the South Granville area (the southwest corner of West Broadway Avenue and Hemlock Street to be precise) at about 10:30 a.m.

I was finally going to get some breakfast.

Walking my bike and trailer along the south sidewalk of the 1400 block, I covered the 119 metres-or-so west to the sign pole where I prefer to lock up my bicycle.

Along the way I passed all the usual landmarks: the 24-hour convenience store on the corner, the Japanese restaurant, the upscale drinking establishment and the tanning salon, before I came to the furniture store.

And there on the sidewalk, in front of Jordans Interiors, was something new; something that hadn’t been there the previous evening.

Stretched out ahead of me on the concrete, for well over 20 metres, was a nonstop drizzle of pink paint, more-or-less spelling out a message:


Oh that again, I thought.

Fighting big oil—one bit of vandalism at a time

A small, harmless, pink paint spill—not to be confused with a big black oil spill.

Small pink paint spill—not to be confused with a big black oil spill.

Two years ago, there was a spate of “No pipelines” spraypaint graffiti in Vancouver. I saw several examples in East Van that were all big and ugly, done on building walls and sometimes even on shop windows. These seemed to me deliberately calculated to cause maximum annoyance, not to mention maximum inconvenience and expense for building owners.

The reign of “no pipelines” graffiti led to a June 2014 police raid on the East Vancouver home of First Nations activists opposed to the continued expansion of fossil fuel exploration and exploitation, especially across the 2.6 million hectares of recognized First Nations land in Canada.

According to the search warrant, the June 2, 2014, raid was conducted by the Vancouver Police graffiti squad. Computers were confiscated but I’m not aware that any charges resulted.

While I do not appreciate ugly, defacing graffiti, I have to recognize that anti-pipeline tagging is a legitimate tactic of the global grassroots effort to oppose the harmful effects of the oil and gas industry.

Such graffiti can potentially shock people out of their routine complacency and perhaps make a few of them think about the important issues behind the superficial slogan.

And when you think about the slogan in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue, don’t you think that it was downright considerate of whomever to drizzle the paint on the sidewalk?

I mean, not only did they avoid causing needless expense and aggravation to a business owner but, by eschewing spraypaint altogether,they didn’t especially add any greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which is still something that post-CFC spray propellants do.

And given how most people now walk around with their eyes cast down in the direction of their phones, putting the anti-pipeline message under people’s feet means that some of them may actually read it, if only accidentally.

I was interested to see how many days the graffiti would last before foot traffic began to wear the paint off the sidewalk. In fact, it only lasted a week.

On June 30 a two-person team with the City of Vancouver’s graffiti removal contractor came by and unceremoniously pressure washed the message off the sidewalk. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Art, Fairview

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