Racist and vulgar graffiti, some of it misspelled, is keeping officials in Kamloops, B.C., so busy that the group tasked with cleaning it up is calling this "the worst summer ever."
Graffiti is defacing public buildings, private strata developments, and even the local lodge run by the Elks of Canada in the city of more than 85,500 people, located in the province's Interior.
The problem is also raising tension levels between the city and Canada Post, with residents urging local officials to fine the Crown corporation for being too slow to clean up graffiti.
Ronnie Bouvier, who heads the local anti-graffiti task force, told a committee of city council on Monday that her team has cleaned or painted over about 90 square metres of tags and racial slurs every day this summer, with one marathon session tackling 270 square metres.
"Every new thing the city put up was hit," she said. "Lots of vulgarity, lots of racial (slurs) — even if it's spelled wrong, you know what the racial stuff is."
Parks have been hit particularly badly in the last month, Bouvier said, noting one needed her group's attention multiple times per week.
"We had to go at five in the morning to Riverside [Park] after Canada Day. We've never had to do that."
Some private strata developments are also being hit with racial slurs and the task force had to repaint the Elks lodge due to graffiti, she said.
Gay Pooler of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association wants the city to look into issuing fines against Canada Post for not cleaning up graffiti left on its mail boxes fast enough.
The city's bylaws require property owners to remove graffiti in a timely manner or face a fine.
"I think Canada Post should be held to the same standards as my businesses," said Pooler.
Jon Wilson, the city's community safety manager, said the anti-graffiti task force used to clean mail boxes but Canada Post didn't renew its contract with the group, and now local officials are exploring their options.
"It is on public land, so there is some obligation out there to maintain to a certain standard," said Wilson.
Mayor Peter Milobar said he has tried to raise the issue with the postal service and was told residents need to call Canada Post's customer-service line, where complaints are logged, after which the graffiti is supposed to be removed within 48 hours.
"I told them they're not," said Milobar, "but they said they certainly are. You just have to keep phoning."
A Canada Post spokesman said "hateful" graffiti is supposed to be cleaned up by a contractor within 24 hours, but there's a two-day clean up window for other tags.
The spokesman wasn't able to identify who cleans up mail boxes in Kamloops now that the graffiti task force is off the job, but said Canada Post isn't aware of any cleanup issues in the city.
Meantime, Bouvier said the task force is looking at fundraising for a walnut blaster, an environmentally friendly cleaning tool that costs about $20,000.
"It's an ideal machine," she said. "It's like using a vacuum."