Town won’t stand for arena graffiti

With recent reports of graffiti and messes left in dressing rooms at the Memorial Sports Centre, town council sent a message Monday night that such behaviour won’t be tolerated.
Mayor Dan Onichuk recalled that about a year ago, the town worked to eliminate vandalism at the arena to much success.
But recently he’s received complaints about graffiti there, and said it’s time to reinforce the town’s stance on preserving a facility that belongs not only to its users but the whole community.
“There has been graffiti appearing periodically—not nice stuff for the average person to see,” Mayor Onichuk remarked. “I just want to remind people writing on the walls of buildings is vandalism, and should be treated no differently.
“People shouldn’t be forced to see profanity on the walls,” added the mayor. “We have a beautiful complex. . . . It is the envy of communities our size and larger.
“We have come a ways,” he said. “But we have a ways to go, and that means a lot of public education.”
Coun. Struchan Gilson noted the Community Services executive committee has worked hard to stop vandalism at the Memorial Sports Centre in recent years, and has seen a “vast improvement in the way the building’s been treated.”
But he admitted he’s recently seen “puck writing” on walls there and messy dressing rooms—and it needs to stop now.
“I just want to remind everybody it is our building, adults and kids alike,” Coun. Gilson stressed. “We have to take responsibility for it.
“And I want to remind the coaches we are responsible for our kids in that building. If you are a coach, and you have a team in that building, you as a coach are responsible,” he remarked.
“I know when I was a coach, I took that very seriously. Most of the coaches here do.”
How a coach could leave a dressing room a mess in good conscience was incomprehensible, added Coun. Gilson.
“For those coaches who seem to think the only thing about coaching is what happens on the ice, there’s another component. It’s about learning,” he said. “And [the players] are not learning a lot of if they’re allowed to trash a dressing room.
“It annoys me because I’m paying for that facility along with everybody else,” Coun. Gilson remarked.
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig noted the Memorial Sports Centre undoubtedly will see wear through the years through usage, but any intentional actions to damage it are inexcusable.
“You have to remember something—a lot of community effort went into this arena. I have first-hand knowledge how hard some of these people worked,” McCaig said.
“A lot of taxpayers utilize the facility, but there’s a lot of taxpayers who don’t who this graffiti is also disrespectful to,” he added.
McCaig stressed the town considers graffiti of any sort to be “willful damage” or “vandalism,” and as such, anyone caught marking up the walls will be “responsible for the subsequent repairs of the facility.”
“We will be diligent in that,” he vowed.
“We don’t want to be punitive. We don’t want to take that approach. Walking through the doors, it’s supposed to be a fun place,” added McCaig.
“That being said, we’re not going to let a small few ruin it for the rest.”

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