A new homeowner in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood says her house was targeted by vandals after she painted over a mural of a dog left by the previous owner.
Two weeks ago, Tina Valente freshened up her century-old semi-detached home at the corner of Armstrong Street and Stirling Avenue with a coat of grey paint, covering up the large mural that the previous owner had painted of her French bulldog Imelda in 2018.
On Tuesday morning, she woke to find the wall, which faces the sidewalk on Armstrong, streaked and splashed with pink and red paint.
"I was just really upset. It's lots of money to fix this," she said.
Valente said she was open to the idea of a mural, but she had no personal attachment to that particular painting. She later learned that some of her new neighbours were attached to it, however.
"There were a couple comments that people were coming to vandalize the house," she said.
Now Valente is worried that if she repaints, the vandalism will be repeated.
'Artists need places to vent'
In response, some artists in the area have volunteered to help out by creating a new mural for Valente.
Daniel Martelock, an Ottawa-based artist who has painted murals across the city, happened to walk by while CBC was speaking with Valente. Martelock believes the city needs more places for legal street art.
"There's only so much wall, and we're getting more and more artists. Artists need places to vent, especially street artists," Martelock said.
Martelock said murals are a good way to prevent tagging and other vandalism. For the most part, taggers will respect other artists' work because they're artists as well, he said.
"This dog for instance was here since 2018, and nobody tagged it. Some people didn't like it and some people did, but nobody tagged it."
In fact, the previous homeowner commissioned the mural painted because she'd also been dealing with frequent graffiti. She was initially ordered by the city to remove the mural, but the city later relented after the mayor intervened and some city councillors became involved.
Appetite for street art growing
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said big blank walls in urban areas often invite vandalism.
"A common reaction on the part of homeowners is to put up a mural or put up some sort of shrubbery or greenery that helps dissuade some of that tagging," Leiper said.
Leiper said when the dog mural was painted in 2018, it was difficult for homeowners to get approval from the city for that kind of artwork, even on private property. Today, homeowners can apply to the city for a permit.
Leiper said the appetite for street art is growing, and he hopes to see more murals in the neighbourhood.