His­toric High Level Bridge a mag­net for graf­fiti

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Dave Ma­bell LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD dma­bell@leth­bridge­herald.com

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.

Her­ald photo by Greg Bobinec

The High Level Bridge has seen an in­crease of graf­fiti tag­ging on all parts of the bridge, fol­low­ing the warm sum­mer.

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