By Dale Cory
At its best, graffiti could be considered an art form worthy of display in galleries and exhibitions.
At its worst, graffiti is nothing more than an ugly nuisance, and is considered a form of vandalism.
It’s safe to say many of the business owners along Chipman Avenue in downtown Ponoka saw visions of the latter when they looked at that part of their building seen from the back lane.
Thankfully, the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse and Nova Chemicals stepped in to beautify the area and eliminate the unwanted messages spray-painted onto the buildings. It was all part of the Days of Caring campaign through the United Way.
“Every year the Rising Sun Clubhouse Society gets asked by Nova Chemicals if its employee’s can come to the clubhouse and do something for us. We have had the clubhouse totally painted, and repairs done through the years,” explained Debbie Lamey, executive director of the clubhouse. “This year we thought, ‘Let’s give back to the community that gives so much to us.’ We contacted Nova and asked if this could be possible, and they did what they had to do to make it happen for our community.”
The Rising Sun subsequently contacted businesses around town and asked if they would like to have the graffiti removed from their buildings.
It was sunny the day before, and sunny the day after. Unfortunately, the six Nova Chemicals employees who brought out their paintbrushes to help with this worthy cause Sept. 28 had to contend with cool weather, and a few rain delays. But eventually, the job got done, with Nova employees Murray Kobasa, Vince Boyce, Mike Talma, Kyle Iversen, Glenn Hay and Mike Sullivan successfully covering up all unwanted graffiti.
“The United Way campaign is one of the ways Nova Chemicals lends a hand to improve the overall quality of life in our Central Alberta communities. We are pleased to include their Days of Caring program in our campaign. It is a great opportunity to provide a community service and increase awareness of the agency and the many valuable services it provides in our communities,” offered up Boyce, a maintenance technician
with Nova who says the company has been recognized as the largest combined employee and corporate contributor to the United Way of Central Alberta for the last several years. “The reason we take advantage of this opportunity is because, in a small way, we can make a difference. It is also great to build relationship with people making a difference in our community.”
Downtown business owner Ashley Plamondon certainly noticed the difference after the back of his building had been repainted.
“I think it was a great thing. Debbie from the Rising Sun Clubhouse noticed graffiti on the back of my building, which I was going to cover up eventually. She said the Nova people would come down and repaint it for free, and I jumped at the chance,” says Plamondon, owner of Accu Printing. “It made a huge difference. I don’t like people painting graffiti, and it affected me directly. It helps spruce up the downtown. I like this downtown strip, and I think it’s a great thing they’re doing.”
All of the businesses that received fresh paint on their buildings were very thankful for the opportunity to rid themselves of this unwanted artwork.
“It’s a wonderful thing for them to be able to do that,” said Laurie Montgomery of Scizzor Wizard Hair Design. “I know I’ll be really disappointed if I see graffiti on my wall again.”
Other businesses that had graffiti removed included the Leland Hotel and Kles Air.
“The businesses that accepted were absolutely thrilled to have something like this happen to them,” adds Lamey. “We all talked about it at the end of the day and said ‘What a good feeling. We did make a difference today’.”
If you would like to help out the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse Society, call: 403-783-5810.