In many jurisdictions around the world, graffiti and unsanctioned postering have been identified as a costly urban social problem. While many solutions have been proposed, most of them treat graffiti as vandalism and postering as a form of unsightliness or litter. Both graffiti and postering are assumed to signify urban decay and increased incidence of crime, and municipalities are often willing to devote considerable resources to control these related phenomena.

Besides the costs, these attempts to control unsanctioned imagery in the public sphere usually have legal implications related to municipal jurisdiction and freedom of expression guarantees. Some argue that unsanctioned images have artistic merit and provide insight into social and political issues worth noting. This research addresses itself to the intersection of legal, cultural, and social issues related to graffiti and postering, especially in Canadian municipalities, and makes recommendations towards managing what is seen as a widespread and costly problem.

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Copyright 2005© Marshall Soules and Tricia Irish, Malaspina University College