Historic High Level Bridge a magnet for graffiti
As one of the world’s largest bridges, Lethbridge’s famous Canadian Pacific Viaduct draws lots of attention.
But not all of it is positive, railway officials say. The High Level Bridge also attracts plenty of graffiti — and if its “artists” are caught, they’re likely to be charged.
“Graffiti on railway property is an ongoing issue,” says spokesperson Salem Woodrow.
In Lethbridge, the bridge was built in 1912 as part of an initiative that later provided Canadians and Americans speedy transportation from Chicago and southern Ontario to Spokane, Seattle and Vancouver. Later, Lethbridge developed adjacent land to become Indian Battle Park.
The eastern end of the bridge stands in a nature preserve near the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.
But despite its historic importance, the towering structure is not public property.
“Railway property is private property, and acts of vandalism against railway property are crimes,” Woodrow says.
Vandals can be charged with trespassing and mischief, she points out.
“If convicted in court, Canadian Pacific will seek restitution for the cost of repainting.”
Canada’s two national railways have their own police forces, with the power to lay charges and prosecute offenders as required. But with bridges, buildings and railway cars spread right across the nation, they’re not able to patrol all areas frequently.
That’s where members of the public can help, Woodrow says.
She asks anyone seeing a graffiti painter at work, or who finds profanity or other objectionable material painted on Canadian Pacific property, to report it.
Canadian Pacific Police can be contacted online at Community_Connect@cpr.ca.
If it’s on one of the structure’s concrete bases, however, park visitors can report the graffiti to the city’s graffiti cleanup team by calling city hall at 403-320-3850.
Officials say incidents can also be reported through “Online reporting” on the city police website — Lethbridgepolice.ca — by using the “Damage/Mischief” tab.
The High Level Bridge has seen an increase of graffiti tagging on all parts of the bridge, following the warm summer.