Decade-old Fernwood mural damaged by graffiti

A Fernwood business owner says he is disgusted and frustrated after a spray-paint-wielding vandal defaced a mural that has decorated the north side of his building for more than a decade.

Robb Warren, owner of Fernwood Auto, said three graffiti tags have now ruined large parts of a mural that stretched the length of the building along Walnut Street.

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“I just don’t understand why they have to go around defacing someone’s property or even a picture like this,” he said, adding it makes even less sense when the graffiti destroys actual art on the wall.

The graffiti covers parts of a painting of a vintage service station, including blotting out a painted pedestrian and parts of a vehicle.

“You just have to ask why,” Warren said.

The mural depicts an old service station with two service bays with classic cars, an antique gas pump, a passing pedestrian and a neighbourhood cat.

Warren said it was painted 10 to 12 years ago by Victoria High School students.

“The wall at the time was off-white and was being tagged all the time,” said Warren, who struck a deal with a Vic High art teacher: Warren provided paint and the students created a painting they thought might deter vandalism.

It worked, though Warren said they have had to fix smaller tags over the years. On one occasion, a tagger actually came back and fixed the mural himself.

“This building has been painted 10 or 15 times over with the amount of paint we’ve used to paint over graffiti and to correct things,” he said.

Warren said he expects no action from the City of Victoria or the Victoria Police.

“As far as the city is concerned, it’s not a problem, and the same attitude comes from the police department. They give you a case file and that’s as far as it goes,” he said, adding he has called about graffiti problems numerous times.

Warren isn’t sure what he’s going to do about the latest round of vandalism.

“I have no painting skills and other than going to hire an artist to come in and do something, I’m not sure what to do, and that will be a big chunk of money,” he said. “It would also require removing semi-mature trees and things to get access.”

Jennifer Carlstrom, who walks past the shop regularly, wrote to the Times Colonist to say she was disheartened by the graffiti.

Carlstrom called defacing the artwork disgraceful. “There are many graffiti artists whose work I admire when done in the right place. However, this is straight vandalism.”

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