Over the last year I have started to have conversations with the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, Beltline Urban Murals Project (BUMP) and Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley about finding a space within the Beltline for a legal graffiti wall. With the art/mural scene in Calgary growing, BUMP going into its 4th year and the understanding that graffiti plays a role in urban centres, it seems like an opportune time to do a pilot project in Calgary. At this point we are trying to find an ideal physical space where spill-over of graffiti will not hinder the project.

A legal graffiti wall does not stop graffiti from happening around the city. What it does is provide a place for people of all ages to try their skills with a spray can. Usually what happens is part of the wall is left for individuals that are new to the art form, while other areas are painted often by local prominent artists or visitors. A wall such as this would create a fun, always changing design that would attract people to come and see it on a regular basis. A legal wall will increase foot traffic, bring people to the area who might access other businesses and help increase our art culture in Calgary.

Below are a couple of examples of legal walls across Canada. Victoria has a large one called “Trackside”, that is along an abandoned rail line that now has a bike/walking path that parallels it. People love to stop and admire what has been or is being painted. In Saskatoon on the back of White Buffalo Youth Lodge is a wall that is used often for an annual festival called Summer Fling but can be painted anytime of the year. It is in a low-income neighbourhood and it is nice to see how the community gets involved and appreciates the art. The most well-known is Graffiti Alley in Toronto. which has its own Tripadvisor page.

This is the alley Rick Mercer walks down filming his rants. This is a popular location for photo shoots, tourists and local urban art fans.