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Graffiti and Mural Program

Working together to stop graffiti

The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Police Service are committed to dealing with graffiti vandalism and strive to provide a clean, vibrant, safe and welcoming community for all residents, businesses and visitors.

What is graffiti?

Graffiti is the etching, painting or placing of a mark on public or private property.

When any type of graffiti is placed on public or private property it is considered an act of vandalism and is against the law.

Types of graffiti

The most common type of graffiti in the Ottawa area is "tagging". It is the writing, painting or "bombing" of an identifiable symbolic character or "tag" that may or may not contain letters. Other types of graffiti are: personalized, political, offensive and hate-related.

Hate related graffiti is graffiti that is motivated, in whole or in part by, hate/bias or prejudice based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any similar factor.

Gang related graffiti is rare in Ottawa.

Where is it?

Graffiti can be found almost everywhere - in the downtown core, suburban neighbourhoods and rural communities. It exists on many surfaces including bridges, buildings, walls, utility boxes, mailboxes, vehicles, and in parks.

Who is affected?

Graffiti is not a victimless crime. If graffiti is left to spread in our community it can: 

  • Leave the impression that no one cares and that no one is in control
  • Lead to increased crime/vandalism
  • Discourage business and shopping, and lead to lost business revenue
  • Decrease aesthetic appeal
  • Cost millions of dollars for removal
  • Divert tax dollars from community programs and services
  • Harm prosperity and reduce property values
  • Affect the sense of safety and security for residents and visitors

Taking Action

The City of Ottawa recognizes that managing graffiti is most effective using a collaborative, multi-faceted approach. That’s why, in partnership with the Ottawa Police Service and community leaders; the City follows the 4E model of graffiti management:

  • Education – Raising awareness in the community about the negative impact and costs associated with graffiti and about the importance of prevention and rapid removal.
  • Empowerment - Maximizing available resources and relationships and encouraging property owners to take a key role in deterring graffiti.
  • Eradication - Removing graffiti quickly and efficiently and encouraging timely reporting of graffiti.
  • Enforcement - Applying municipal and other relevant laws when necessary, including the Graffiti Management By-law.

How do I report graffiti?

Don’t ignore graffiti – report it! The sooner you report graffiti, the sooner it can be removed and the likelihood of recurrence can be decreased by as much as 85%.
Below are simple tips to help report and prevent graffiti: 

  • If you see graffiti vandalism happening, it is considered a crime in progress and can be reported by calling 9-1-1.
  • If your property has been vandalized with graffiti, call the Ottawa Police Service Call Centre at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300 (TTY:613-760-8100). All hate-based graffiti should be reported to the Ottawa Police Service Hate Crime Section at 613-236-1222, ext. 2466. Property owners are responsible for removal of graffiti from their property.
  • To report graffiti on public property (parks, roads, street signs, utility boxes, newspaper boxes or Canada Post boxes) or private property (residential, businesses, industrial), fill out the online form or call the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 (TTY 613-580-2401). The City will notify the property owner of the graffiti and ensure the property owner removes it promptly.
  • If you wish to report graffiti vandalism anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 613-233-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-222-8477.

Graffiti and the Law

The law is clear – placing graffiti on public or private property is a crime. 

  • Under the City of Ottawa’s Graffiti Management By-law, graffiti vandals can face fines of $615 including victim surcharge.
  • Under the Criminal Code of Canada, graffiti is considered vandalism and the appropriate charge is “mischief under or over $5,000”. Under the legislation, graffiti vandals may be subject to additional community service hours and or criminal charges. A conviction could result in a criminal record that can impact a young person’s future including employment opportunities or travel outside the country. 
  • Under the Parental Responsibility Act, parents are financially responsible for property loss, damage or destruction intentionally caused by their children who are under 18 years of age.

Property Owners

The City of Ottawa’s Graffiti Management By-law requires that all property within the City of Ottawa remain free of graffiti, with the exception of any area designated as a “legal graffiti wall”.

Property owners who choose not to remove graffiti in a timely manner will receive written Notice requiring compliance.  A minimum of seven (7) days will be given to comply.  If a property owner chooses not to comply with the Notice, contractors may be hired by the city to remove the graffiti.  Associated costs will be added to the property owners’ municipal tax bill.

What is a Legal Graffiti Wall?

A legal graffiti wall otherwise known as a “free space” is an area where graffiti is permitted and encouraged. The City of Ottawa currently has 3 legal graffiti walls at the following locations:

  1. Underside of the Dunbar Bridge – 1301 Bronson Avenue.
  2. Albert Street Education Centre Retaining Wall – 422 Slater Street. 
  3. Bob MacQuarrie (Orleans) Recreation Complex – 1490 Youville Drive.

Goals of the Graffiti Management Strategy

The overall goal of the Graffiti Management Strategy is to have a clean, safe and graffiti-free city. We are working towards our goal with a commitment to...

  • Removing graffiti as quickly as possible
  • Increasing community capacity to manage graffiti
  • Enhancing civic pride and prosperity for residents and businesses
  • Encouraging the use of prevention techniques
  • Providing easy and accessible reporting options
  • Supporting residents and businesses with appropriate tools and resources
  • Involving business, residents, youth, community organizations and graffiti writers as partners
  • Adopting best practices and research based solutions to graffiti management

Volunteer Programs

The value of one! The power of many!

Volunteers can strengthen our community and help make Ottawa a graffiti-free city.

Participating as a volunteer in the graffiti management program has numerous benefits for you and your neighbourhood including

  • Building your neighbourhood’s capacity to manage graffiti;
  • Bringing residents together to develop community solutions;
  • Becoming a role model in your community;
  • Proactively engaging neighbours to prevent crime;
  • Increasing safety and cleanliness;
  • Helping to promote and maintain healthy neighbourhoods.

You can get involved by:

  1. Picking up your free Community Graffiti Removal kit and committing to removing graffiti on public assets in your neighbourhood. Kits are designed to get you started in removing graffiti on smooth surfaces including signs, traffic control boxes, newspaper and mailboxes. Each starter kit includes graffiti cleaning wipes, gloves, removal instructions and safety information. Many residents across Ottawa have already made an impact on the appearance of our community with these kits. Register a Graffiti Removal Project with the Cleaning the Capital Campaign at ( You can also request a kit by e-mail.
  2. Organizing a Community Graffiti Removal Event as part of the Cleaning the Capital program or on your own. Planning a graffiti removal event doesn’t have to be complicated. All it takes is some enthusiasm and some careful planning. The City of Ottawa can support you by providing removal supplies and additional resources if required.
  3. Adopt-a-Park or Adopt-a-Roadway and work together to ensure your space is kept graffiti-free. Adopt-a-Park/Adopt-a-Roadway is a citywide program that encourages community involvement in the care and maintenance of our parks and roadways. It is a partnership between volunteers and the City. The program is open to community groups and individuals who want to take an active role in enhancing the quality of life in our community.

 Together we can make Ottawa graffiti-free!

 To learn more about graffiti management you can watch this video.

Contact us

For more information on the Graffiti Management Program please contact:

Graffiti Management Program
100 Constellation Cr, 5th floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K2G 6J8

Fax: 613-580-9605
Phone: 3-1-1

Tips for concerned parents

What is a graffiti tagger?

A graffiti tagger is someone who adopts a nickname or signature and places that signature on objects or property in the form of graffiti. This nickname or signature is referred to as a “tag”. The goal of a tagger is to earn respect and recognition within the graffiti movement by placing as many signatures in as many high profile locations as possible. Some taggers will go to great lengths, including putting themselves at risk or in danger, to place their tag in the most challenging locations.

How do I know if my child might be a tagger?

There are some general indicators that your child may be involved in graffiti including:

  • adopting a new signature or nickname used by his/her friends.
  • carrying a sketchbook (often referred to as a “black book”) containing graffiti tags or cartoon-like art.
  • graffiti tags appear on notebooks, furniture, walls or other objects including skateboards and under the brim of a baseball cap.
  • frequenting graffiti Web sites, discussion boards and reading graffiti magazines.
  • in the possession of graffiti paraphernalia including spray paint cans and tips, markers, shoe polish containers, etching tools (etching acid, sand paper, wood-working tools, stencils, rocks, nails, glass cutters, screw drivers) and “Hello my name is” stickers which are commonly used for sticker tagging.
  • marker or paint stains on hands or clothing.
  • in possession of large supplies of clear, medical gloves
  • frequently staying out late at night (Taggers usually work between the hours of midnight and 6 am)
  • becoming secretive or protective about certain items including areas in their room, bags or clothing. (Many taggers will keep a specific set of clothing, often a dark coloured hooded sweatshirt, for tagging activities.)
  • spending time with other children/youth displaying the above characteristics.

What can I do to prevent my child/youth from becoming a tagger?

The best way to prevent your child/youth from becoming a tagger is to be aware of the warning signs and encourage open communication. Talk to them about the negative impacts of graffiti and be aware of who their friends are and where they are hanging out.

Encourage your child/youth to participate in other positive creative outlets. There are other ways for your child to make their mark!

Encourage involvement in positive activities such as sports or school events

Help your child express their creative energy in a positive way including art classes or design projects

Get your child/youth and his or her friends involved in a community clean up initiative such as Cleaning the Capital. Not only is your child positively contributing to the community, high school students can use the hours spent cleaning towards their mandatory volunteer hours!

Graffiti prevention and removal

Prevent It

To deter graffiti vandals and prevent graffiti from occurring or recurring on your property, there are some simple methods that you can use.

  • Remove any graffiti as soon as it appears. The faster graffiti is removed, the less desirable your property becomes to vandals.
  • Make every effort to keep the appearance of your property clean and neat. Litter, broken fences and overgrown shrubs send a message of indifference, which can attract vandals.
  • Plant vines, shrubs or thorny plants to limit access to walls.
  • Move vehicles, dumpsters and other items away from walls and cover pipes to prevent access to the roof or upper levels of a building.
  • Consider applying a special coating to protect surfaces from potential damage caused by graffiti removal.
  • Design and build structures that are not attractive graffiti targets. Avoid large, smooth and light coloured surfaces.
  • Use fences and other barriers to discourage through traffic near your home or business.
  • Work with community artists to commission a mural on a persistently targeted wall.

Work with your community

Working together with other businesses and residents is an effective way to prevent graffiti from occurring on your street or in your neighbourhood.

  • Encourage community pride and respect. Work together with your neighbours to Adopt-a-park or Adopt-a-roadway and keep your neighbourhood free of graffiti.
  • Organize a graffiti cleanup project in your community during the City’s Cleaning the Capital campaigns. Graffiti removal kits are available for community groups and residents who wish to remove graffiti on public property.
  • Step up security by starting a Neighbourhood or Business Watch program and encourage neighbours to look out for each other.
  • Consider partnering and sharing resources with neighbouring homeowners and businesses to contract a specific graffiti removal specialist OR form a neighbourhood graffiti removal crew and assist those who are not able to remove graffiti themselves. This encourages quick and consistent removal, works to prevent further graffiti and maintains the collective value of your properties.

Remove It

If you are a victim of graffiti, it is important that you remove it as soon as possible - ideally within 48 to 72 hours. Why?

  • Rapid removal sends a clear message that defacing your property is not acceptable.
  • Recurrence is reduced by 85 per cent if removed within 48 hours.
  • Removal products work best on newly applied graffiti.
  • Rapid removal eliminates the public recognition sought by graffiti vandals.
  • Rapid removal of graffiti keeps your property and neighbourhood clean.

How should graffiti be removed?

Different solutions will work more effectively on different surfaces.

It is important to remember that these methods are guidelines only. The City of Ottawa does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Web site and is not responsible in any way for damages arising out of the use of removal methods described on this Web site.

Removal Tips

Always consult a professional before attempting to remove graffiti. See “Graffiti Removal” in the yellow pages or at

If you do attempt to remove graffiti yourself, please keep in mind:

  • Removal products work best on newly applied graffiti. Try to remove graffiti as soon as you notice it.
  • Read and follow the product manufacturer’s directions.
  • Follow proper safety precautions.
  • Wear safety glasses and protective clothing.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and environmental hazards including wind.
  • Use chemicals in a well ventilated area.
  • Do a test patch first with all removal products.
  • Store any unused removal products in a secure location.

How should graffiti be removed?

The most common methods of graffiti removal include:

  1. Chemical removal
    This entails using a chemical solvent and water to remove the graffiti. Chemical solvents are effective on most surfaces. It is always advised to consult a professional when preparing to use a chemical graffiti remover. Improper removal can imbed graffiti or cause further damage to your property.
  2. Pressure Washing
    This removes graffiti by applying hot water under pressure. Power washing is most effective when used in conjunction with a chemical solvent and an abrasive suitable to the surface you are working on. Pressure washing is best for brick, stone, stucco, aluminium and vinyl surfaces.
  3. Paint over
    On painted surfaces; painting over graffiti is a low-cost removal method. Be sure to colour match the paint to the surface, apply a primer to prevent graffiti from leaching through and cover as much of the surface as you can. A patchwork of paint is an ideal canvas for graffiti vandals and may attract additional graffiti. Paint over is only recommended for previously painted wood, metal and plastic surfaces, or if other removal techniques are unsuccessful.

Graffiti removal by surface type

Different solutions will work more effectively on different surfaces.

It is important to remember that these methods are guidelines only. The City of Ottawa does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Web site and is not responsible in any way for damages arising out of the use of removal methods described on this Web site.

The key to removal is to use an appropriate amount of solvent (a little goes a long way) and apply generous pressure to the area. To protect the surface, start with a soft cloth and move to a gentle scrubbing tool if necessary. Most removal products can be rinsed with a hose or a spray bottle of hot water. *

Surface Type Solution
Brick/Stone Apply a paint remover or chemical graffiti remover with a soft brush and then rinse off with water.  If the graffiti is more difficult to remove, try a gel product and let it sit on the surface for 10 – 15 minutes. Rinse with a power or pressure washer.  Depending on the type of paint used, a shadow tag may remain after cleaning. Usually a second cleaning will remove or reduce the appearance of the shadow.  NOTE: Hot water pressure is more effective than a cold water system when removing graffiti.
Metal Apply a small amount of graffiti remover, use a gentle scrub pad or cloth, and then wash off with a spray water bottle.  Community Graffiti Removal Kits are available for use on City property and other public assets.
Tile/Granite/Marble These surfaces are very delicate and we recommend you seek professional advice. You can try applying a small amount graffiti remover to a small area and gently scrubbing it off. Stop immediately if you see this process is damaging the area. 
Wood Painting over or power washing the area may be most effective. In some cases graffiti remover can be applied and scrubbed with a soft scrub pad. Always test the remover in a small area before covering the entire surface. When painting over, be sure to match the original paint colour as best as you can and paint the entire surface.
Plastic (including vinyl siding) Use graffiti remover and lightly use a scrub pad, then rinse or use a pressure washer. CAUTION: Some plastics will break down as soon as remover is applied, so it’s best to try a small area to start. In some cases, a mild household cleaner may remove the graffiti, however, you may end up having to repaint the area with matching paint. Do not use paint thinners as they can soften the plastic and can cause clouding or permanent tackiness of the surface. 
Glass Use a razor blade to scrape off the graffiti and/or use graffiti remover. If the graffiti doesn’t come off completely after using the razor blade, use ultra-fine bronze wood with water to gently rub off the remaining paint.
Pavement Apply graffiti remover (and possibly a gel product). Power wash off (soda blasting may also work).

If you are unable to remove the graffiti yourself contact a professional. See “Graffiti Removal” in the yellow pages or at

Graffiti By-law

The graffiti management by-law

The City of Ottawa’s Graffiti Management By-law was enacted in January 2008. The By-law requires that ALL* property within the City of Ottawa remain free of graffiti. View the Graffiti Management By-law 2008-01.

* (The by-law applies to all property within the City of Ottawa with the exception of any area designated as a “legal graffiti wall”.)

Graffiti vandals

The law is clear – placing graffiti on public or private property is a crime. Under the By-law, graffiti vandals can now face fines of $610 including victim surcharge.

Property owners:

The By-law requires that property owners remove graffiti from their property within a minimum of 7 days after receiving notice from the City. If a property owner chooses not to remove the graffiti within the specified time frame, contractors may be hired by the city to remove the graffiti. Associated costs will be added to the property owners’ municipal tax bill.

There are many options available to help you prevent and remove graffiti in your neighbourhood.

  1. Organize a Neighbourhood Watch Program
  2. Participate in the Community graffiti removal program by requesting a Community Graffiti Removal Kit
  3. Organize a graffiti cleaning day in your neighbourhood
  4. Hire a professional graffiti remover contractor.

What about Urban Art?

Public and urban art play an important role in our community and can contribute to community pride and beautification. Graffiti tagging is vandalism – not art. By encouraging residents to make responsible choices when placing art legally in public and private areas, we can maintain the integrity and the beauty of our city. Legal walls, community art programs and mural opportunities are available across the City to support artists and creative expression.

Check out some of these local programs and opportunities:

  1. Ottawa School of Art
  2. House of Paint
  3. Legal Walls: George Dunbar Bridge (Bronson Avenue), Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex (Orleans), and the Albert Street Education Centre (Slater Street).

Ottawa's Mural Program

Murals are large-scale artworks created directly on a wall, or attached to it, with the permission of the property owner. Outdoor murals have proven to be effective in managing graffiti vandalism, supporting arts and culture, contributing to economic development and providing youth engagement opportunities.

The goal of this program is to support the City’s Graffiti Management Strategy and beautify our city through the design, production and facilitation of murals.

The City’s mural program includes:

  • Mural Review Process that provides information and support for property owners and artists who are interested in a mural project.
  • Paint it Up! is a youth engagement program that promotes the use of outdoor murals as a graffiti vandalism deterrent, engaging youth at risk in positive skill-building experiences while simultaneously supporting local arts and culture, and enhancing the City’s beauty for residents and visitors.
  • Murals on Underpasses, a streetscape initiative.

Contact the City's mural co-ordinator for all the information you need at 613-580-2424 ext.13350 or email

Call to Art Professionals – Request for Qualifications

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 17,2017 at 4 pm EST
Budget: $40,000

The City of Ottawa invites art professionals to submit qualifications for an opportunity to consult and collaborate with the community in order to design and execute two original murals, one on each wall of the Main Street underpass, under Highway 417. The murals will reflect the surrounding area and create dynamic gateways in our city’s neighbourhoods.

Background and vision of murals on underpasses project

This opportunity was developed as a means of beautifying the city’s underpasses and simultaneously developing creative gateways which intersect the city’s vibrant communities while reflecting the local community. Collaboration and consultation with community groups, associations, and local businesses are an integral part of the overall vision.  


  • Qualifications deadline: Friday, March 17,  2017 at 4 pm EST
  • Notification to shortlist: March 24, 2017   
  • Artist information session: week of March 27, 2017
  • Stage II interviews: week of May 1, 2017
  • Notification of final results: May 8, 2017
  • Mural painting start: early May 2017
  • This includes the successful completion and implementation of the Community Engagement Plan, Public Works and Environmental Services Department/Ministry of Transportation review of the final concept design, and painting of the mural.
  • Deadline for mural completion: Monday, June 19th 2017


  • This opportunity is open to art professionals, including but not limited to art collectives, art galleries, artist-led community groups, artist teams, curators, designers, mural artists, and visual artists.  
  • The commission is for an original artwork or design

Mural locations

Main Street under Highway 417 bridge

  • Dimensions of paintable area: 8’h x 125’w each wall
  • This underpass is located on Main Street and closest intersection is Harvey Street
  • One mural will be installed on each wall from the same artist that is chosen

Underpass Lighting of Main St at Hwy 417

  • Lights are mounted near ceiling of underpass and shine downwards (type 4 distribution)
  • There are 5 lights on each side(total of 10)
  • 4000K CCT and CRI min 70
  • Initial light output 2138 lumens
  • Photocell controlled 

Design requirements for the murals on underpasses project

Artwork or design must draw from the vision of the Murals on Underpasses Project, while demonstrating contemporary artistic excellence. This commission includes an opportunity for community engagement / consultation, dialogue, and collaboration of the artistic concept and/or creation of the artwork with the surrounding community.

 Completed works of art will: 

  • Demonstrate artistic excellence
  • Reflect the community
  • Be safe for the public
  • Be durable and easily maintained
  • Meet Ministry of Transportation requirements (below) 
  • Meet City of Ottawa requirements (below)

Ministry of Transportation and City of Ottawa requirements 

  • The mural cannot contain any advertising or TAGS  Concept must be suitable for a public of all ages
  • Permanent scaffolding is not permitted due to high volumes of traffic and accessibility considerations
  • Art professionals are responsible for all materials and equipment on site
  • Art professionals must have $2 MIL commercial liability insurance for the project    
  • Art professionals will be required to maintain a clean and safe working environment at all times
  • Mural must be completed with a high quality primer (e.g. Zinsser Bull Eye 1-2-3 or Durex Brush Coat or approved equivalent). Please note the City of Ottawa will clean the wall prior to mural installation.


The total budget for the commission is $40,000 (plus HST if applicable). The commission budget must include all costs required to design, fabricate and install the project as well as any workshop sessions, events and/or meetings required to fulfill the community engagement component of this call. Please consider any technical requirements such as a scissor lift (if required), storage, additional lighting, and insurance

Request for qualifications submission requirements

Your submission must include all four sections listed below. Written materials must be in either of the following file formats DOC, DOCX or PDF, and combined into one single electronic document.

Submissions must be made electronically. Please submit the required document as well as quality image of your work using WeTransfer to  Materials that require specialized software, plug-ins, extensions or other executables that need to be downloaded or installed, or materials that are embedded in any type of presentation, such as websites, or Word or PowerPoint documents will not be accepted.

1. Current résumé 
Maximum three pages and in DOC, DOCX or PDF file format, focusing on experience directly relevant to the project. Include your name, mailing address, telephone number and email address. If multiple people are involved, include each person’s résumé and indicate the team lead. 

 2. Community consultation and engagement experience
Provide any examples of experiences relating to community outreach and engagement.  Theses should demonstrate various strategies on how the community can be engaged, and evidence of the art professionals’ ability to implement community into final products. This engagement can include, but is not limited to community consultation with stakeholders such as community centres, community associations and City of Ottawa Ward Councillors.

3.  List of previous work samples 
Provide a detailed list of each image.  When relevant, include a note listing the location of installed work, more details on the medium and the total art commission budget for any previous art projects. 

4.  Images of previous work samples
A maximum of 10 digital image files are permitted in the submission.  If additional images are included, only the first 10 will be reviewed.  Digital images must be PC-compatible in JPG, TIFF or BMP format 72dpi and no larger than 2 MB each.

Selection Criteria and Process

Request for Qualifications should demonstrate the ability to address the vision of the Murals on Underpasses Project and meet the community outreach and engagement requirement. All submissions will be evaluated based on the art professionals’ experience and qualifications, the creativity of their previous work, as well as evidence of their ability to meet the design requirements.

These commissions will be awarded following a two-stage arms length process as follows:

  • Stage I RFQ – All submissions will be evaluated by a peer assessment committee consisting of art professionals with mural experience, the project management team and a community representative. This committee will review and evaluate the qualifications from all artists in accordance with the selection criteria and will select a maximum of 3 art professionals to move forward to the Stage II. 
  • Stage II – Shortlisted art professionals will be given Terms of Reference to refine their submission, start their community outreach and engagement, and prepare a detailed budget. Artists will then meet in person or via telecommunication with the peer assessment committee for an interview of approximately 30 minutes (week of May 1, 2017), where they will present their community outreach and engagement results and final concept design. 
  • Stage II Honorarium - Each shortlisted art professional will be given a $700 fee which will go towards the costs related to Stage II, which include the design of the Community Engagement Plan, concept drafts or designs.

Deadline and notification

Request for Qualifications Submission must be received via WeTransfer to  no later than March 17, 2017 at 4 pm EST. Fax or email submissions will not be accepted. Late or incomplete submissions will not be reviewed. All participants will be notified electronically of the results of Stage I of the selection process by March 27, 2017.

Inquiries 613-244-4435 613-580-2424 x 13350

Copyright and moral rights

Copyright including any and all designs, drawings, maquettes and final works of art shall remain the property of the artist. Moral rights remain with the artist. The City of Ottawa will seek permission to reproduce the images for non-profit publicity purposes. 

Confidentiality of information

City of Ottawa employees and peer assessment committee members are required to treat both the content of submissions and the deliberations of the committee as confidential. Committee members turn in their copies of materials for shredding and delete their computer files at the end of the peer assessment meeting.

Information provided by the applicant may be available to City of Ottawa employees and members of the peer assessment committee. Personal Information in your submission is being collected under the authority of Sections 8 to 10 of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25. Personal information will only be used for evaluating your submission and administering the City of Ottawa Underpass Mural Project. 

The City of Ottawa reserves the right to reject any or all submissions, or any part thereof, or to terminate or re-advertise any project.

Murals on Underpasses

2017 Murals on Underpasses

For the fourth year, Murals on Underpasses Project continued and two new murals have been installed on City of Ottawa’s underpasses for 2017.

These murals were created by artists from Toronto and represent the architectural history and future of Old Ottawa East community. Two underpass murals were selected for the 2017 project at the following location:

Main Street underpass, under Highway 417

The murals were described as a garden community and how the Rideau River and the Canal are the defining geographic elements of this part of the city. Both murals also prominently feature the negative space of the bridge’s bare wall as part of their design. This intentional choice includes the bridge as part of the mural and showcases it’s architecture and the importance of bridges to connecting this community with those around it.

Location: Main Street underpass at Highway 417
Mural Title: Accord
Artists: Dan Bergeron and Gabriel Specter

The Mural - West Wall

This mural on the west wall uses plant and flower imagery The flowers and plants are embedded in cubes that reflect the future development of this garden community, which will see the built environment grow along with the natural one. The windows on the sides of the cube contain patterns taken from the leaded glass windows at St. Paul’s Pontifical School, as well as many of the older houses in the neighbourhood.

This image shows the west wall of the mural on the Main Street underpass at Highway 417. Painted by artists Dan Bergeron and Gabriel Specter, this mural depicts plant and flower imagery embedded in cubes.

The Mural – East Wall

The East wall with the wave, both organic and geometric patterns appear. The shape patterns are taken from the steep roofs that are found in the neighbourhood, which the organic material reflects the community’s significant natural resources. Like Old Ottawa East itself, which combines natural beauty with the growing presence of buildings and infrastructures, Accord employs both geometric and organic shapes to create harmonious images that reflect their environment and the community’s hopes for sustainable development that finds balance with the landscape.

This image shows the east wall of the mural on the Main Street underpass at Highway 417. Painted by artists Dan Bergeron and Gabriel Specter, this mural depicts organic and geometric patterns in a wave shape.

 About the artists (Dan Bergeron and Gabriel Specter)

They are public artists who employ a range of styles, themes and materials to activate and explore the meaning of our shared public spaces. In their work together, they investigate the historical, environmental and/or community context of our locations to create murals that illuminate the relationships between a wall and its surroundings. Their artworks aim to open a dialog with viewers, promoting engagement through both intimate familiarity and wonder at the unexpected .

Dan Bergeron –

Gabriel Specter – 

2016 Murals on Underpasses

Following two successful years for the Murals on Underpasses Project, two new murals have been installed on City of Ottawa’s underpasses in summer 2016. These murals were created by artists to beautify and enhance these underpasses as key gateways to the City with images that reflect and depict local culture, history or visions of artistic expression.

Outdoor murals are effective in managing graffiti vandalism, supporting arts and culture and contributing to economic development. 

Two underpass mural locations were selected for the 2016 project as follows;

  • Colonel By Drive underpass at Laurier Avenue
  • Queen Elizabeth Drive underpass at Laurier Avenue

Each location features a community inspired mural painted by local artists. Both pieces were designed in consultation with the local community where they are situated. These underpasses frame the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For sponsorship opportunities, or for more information please call 3-1-1 or email

Location: Colonel By Drive underpass at Laurier Avenue
Artist: Ryan Smeeton

The Mural:
This mural highlights the significance of the Rideau Canal and reflects upon the aspects that make it so important to Canadians, both in terms of historical context, as well as a source of leisure and tourism. The design focuses on imagery that reference themes of its engineering and construction, operational and everyday use. The artist’s ultimate goal was to create a mural that will contribute to the canal pathway area and inspire people to feel a sense of wonder and pride.

Mural at Colonel By Drive under Laurier Ave Underpass (east wall)

detail of Mural at Colonel By Drive under Laurier Ave Underpass (east wall)

About the artist:
Ryan Smeeton is an artist based in Ottawa, Ontario. He balances his time between his studio painting practice and creating site-specific murals. His work takes on the purpose of presenting an alternate perspective of the world through the deconstruction and resituating of everyday subject matter.

Location: Queen Elizabeth Drive underpass at Laurier Avenue
Artist team: Cassandra Dickie and Dodo Ose

The Mural

This mural is a surrealist approach to the evolution of the Rideau Canal. The design is inspired by a combination of double exposure photography and watercolour technique.  Large black and white historical images are used as the composition framework, with smaller detailed scenes of present day city lights contained within their outline. These elements reflect a journey down the canal, from nature to urban sprawl, summer to winter, and past to present. Shifting background hues give new life to the concrete by accentuating its natural texture. Observers will be engaged in exploring the artistry of the forms shared between multiple images.

Mural at Queen Elizabeth Dr under Laurier Ave Underpass (west wall)

detail of Mural at Queen Elizabeth Dr under Laurier Ave Underpass (west wall)

About the artists

Cassandra Dickie – Style Over Status/ Ottawa Urban Arts 

A technically versatile artist, Cassandra has degrees in both Animation and Illustration Design.  She dedicated the beginning of her career to the growth of Ottawa’s urban art movement and revitalizing disadvantaged communities, and has since painted murals in cities across North America. Drawing from her broad range of artistic knowledge, Cassandra has explored many mediums and styles, from traditional painting and sculpture to graphic novels and caricatures. She carries these influences into her murals, combining an illustrative approach with dynamic compositions and unique concepts. Her work is a soulful reflection of life, capturing the energy of the environment surrounding it. 

Dodo Ose - A’SHOP

Born in the prestigious city of Lyons, Dodo was initiated to art from a young age.  After completing a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Cannes he decided to re-orient the urban style of his youth towards traditional painting. Drawing on various influences learned from academia he perfected his work and started exposing in galleries in Cannes. After reaching hometown goals, his thirst for knowledge and experience lead him to move to Montreal in 2010. Prompted by the creative free-for all ambiance of the city he reconnected with his roots and refined his personal style. Playing with symbolism and universal archetypes, he crafts surreal dreamscapes merging the figurative with the imaginary.  Seeking to convey the abstract feelings that lurk behind our eyelids, his work reflects the Jungian energy of poetry and fantasy.

2015 Murals on Underpasses

Two underpass mural locations were selected for the 2015 project as follows;

  • 417 underpass at Bank Street
  • 417 underpass at Carling Avenue

Each location features a mural celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation in 2017 painted by renowned local mural artist Nicole Belanger.

The opposite walls feature community inspired murals painted by local artists.

Location: Carling Avenue at Highway 417 Underpass
Mural Title: Felled
Artist Group: Adam Cutts, Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka

The Mural
This mural depicts a fallen Ash tree and the new lives it has taken on. Elements reference characters in the community, children's drawings from a local school, intricate wooden structures built in neighbourhood parks and other landmarks. A series of games and activities for creating surreal composite figures were done with local grade 2 classes to both demonstrate imaginative creative processes, and to guide the creative process and reference material used in this piece.

The team included artists Adam Cutts, Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka. Treating surfaces as a space for collaboration, the group crosses back and forth working on top of each others' sections, painting in and taking away to turn a very inhuman space into an opportunity for daydreaming and as a reminder that public spaces can be imaginative and whimsical.

Mural at carling avenue at highway 417 underpass

About the artists:
PA System, is comprised of artists Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson, who work in textile, printmaking, painting, film and large-scale public art, internationally and particularly in Canada's high arctic.

Adam is an artist and aspiring urban designer working predominantly through collaborative community projects for creating and experimenting with new forms of public spaces. Adam's background and experience is in community engagement and creative approaches to planning and urban design.

Location: Bank Street at Highway 417 Underpass
Mural Title: The Heart of a City in Motion
Artist Group: AMPLove

The Mural:
The artists embraced the chance to turn a cavernous space in our cityscape into something bright and welcoming to locals. A co-dependence of community and nature is highlighted as a progressive city on the move; on foot, dancing, or flying. The multi-coloured palate celebrates the beautiful diversity of individuals from around the world who call Ottawa home. A city in motion is captured, recognizing it is its inhabitants who come together to celebrate nature, family and friendship, and, build the true warmth in the community. It is the people of Ottawa who create its heart.

The AMPLove team includes artists Drew Mosley, Troy Lovegates, and Labrona. The goal of AMPLove affiliated artists is to support the approach of flipping conventional (negative) understandings of graffiti and street art into a positive by using it as a means to inspire more beautiful and safe public spaces.

Mural at bank street at highway 417 underpass

About the artists:

Drew Mosley is an artist and carpenter and spends his days between studio practice and various building and woodworking projects around the Ottawa Valley. Drawing from the solitude and resiliency of nature, these influences figure prominently throughout Drew's paintings.

Labrona is known as one of the top one hundred street artists in the world. His work illustrates multi-colored faces and animals defined by dark features. Inspired by 80?s skate culture and German Expressionism, his work stems from his fascination with and desire to convey raw human emotion.

Troy Lovegates is a nomadic folk artist whose bright paintings criss-cross the globe on the sides of rail cars and appear both large and small on walls around the world in both the public realm and gallery setting.

2014 Murals on Underpasses

Four murals were installed on two underpasses during the summer of 2014 to brighten up the City of Ottawa’s underpasses as part of a new streetscape initiative.  Murals beautify and enhance these underpasses as key gateways to the City with images that reflect and depict local culture, history or visions of artistic expression.  Outdoor murals are effective in managing graffiti vandalism, supporting arts and culture and contributing to economic development.

The two underpass mural locations are:

  • Metcalfe Street at Hwy 417
  • Riverside Drive at Bronson Bridge

Each location features a mural inviting residents to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation which will occur in the year 2017, while local artists have designed and installed community inspired murals on the opposing wall. The "2017" murals at both locations were painted by renowned local mural artist Nicole Belanger.

2017 Murals

The community inspired murals were chosen by an independent panel of local artists and community members, and the designs were created based on extensive consultation with local community.

Location: Metcalfe Street at Highway 417 Underpass
Mural Title: "Connection"
Artist Group: Ottawa Urban Arts

This bright and beautiful mural welcomes visitors travelling along Metcalfe toward Centretown to the North, or towards the Glebe and Lansdowne to the South.   The mural theme is Connection, as this underpass serves as a point of connection between neighbourhoods that each has their own unique identity.  This theme is represented using puzzle piece shapes connecting and breaking apart throughout the length of the wall, with images reflective of residents, community groups and of local architecture

The Ottawa Urban Arts team included artists Cassandra Dickie, Michael Dykman Davis, Dominic Laporte and Phil Laporte. Ottawa Urban Arts is a group of artists aimed to empower youth in our community and to provide spaces for their voice to be heard in positive and creative ways.

Metcalfe Street at Highway 417 Underpass

Location: Riverside Drive at Bronson Bridge
Mural Title: Peregrine Falcons
Artist: Christopher Griffin  

This mural provides a stunning entrance into the City via Riverside Drive. The mural depicts four peregrine falcons to represent the wildlife living in the area, and along the Rideau River. It celebrates the efforts of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club’s Peregrine Falcon Watch. Since 2011, this group has watched over a pair of peregrine falcons who have nested near Heron Road and Bronson Avenue.

Riverside Drive at Bronson Bridge

Riverside Drive at Bronson Bridge

The underpass mural project is a partnership between various departments at the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, and the National Capital Commission.

Mural Review Process

Each mural project in the City of Ottawa must adhere to the requirements of municipal by-laws and provincial and federal regulations. The Mural Review Process is a proactive service offered to anyone who is looking to install murals in the City of Ottawa which assists with ensuring the proposed mural meets all the by-laws, regulations and acts before it is installed. This two-step process reviews both the proposed location as well as the proposed artwork.

Who can benefit from this review process?

This review process can help anyone who wants to improve their neighbourhood with mural art, including

  • Artists
  • Business and property owners
  • Community, youth, arts, and heritage organizations

What is a mural?

Murals are large-scale artworks created directly on a wall, or attached to it, with the permission of the property owner. Outdoor murals have proven to be effective in managing graffiti vandalism, supporting arts and culture, contributing to economic development and providing youth engagement opportunities.

Murals have the potential to beautify and enhance local areas throughout communities with images that reflect and depict culture, history or visions of artistic expression.


A mural can attract people to your business or neighbourhood but under the Permanent Signs on Private Property by-law (2016-326) murals cannot include text that advertises a specific business or product. Additionally, trademarked symbols, text and business or artists names are not permitted in any mural in the City. One exception is the one-square metre at the bottom of a mural where artist name(s) as well as sponsors may be listed.

Municipal & Provincial Restrictions

Each mural project in the City of Ottawa must adhere to the requirements of municipal by-laws and provincial and federal regulations. These include:

When designing a mural there are some specific limitations such as:

  • Murals may not be used for commercial advertising or public information or solicitation of any kind.  For example name of the artists, website address, blogs, brand names, logos, taglines, lengthy descriptions cannot be used in the artwork.  However, a one square metre sponsor acknowledgement area can be located at the bottom corner or at the lowest point of the mural.
  • No tags or acronyms are permitted in the artwork, only wording meaningful to the public at large.
  • No inappropriate or controversial wording or images are permitted in the artwork
  • Local community must be consulted on the mural location and proposed artwork

    Murals not meeting the requirements of By-laws, standards and acts may be subject to removal of the artwork - For more information and assistance contact

Potential funding resources

Organization Program
City of Ottawa Heritage Funding Program
Arts Funding Program
Non-Renewable Community Project Funding and Crime Prevention Ottawa Funding
Crime Prevention Ottawa Paint it Up!
Canada Council for the Arts  
Project Grants for Organizations in the Visual Arts
Artists and Community Collaboration Program in the Visual Arts
Ontario Arts Council Artists in the Community/Workplace
Visual and Media Arts Projects
Arts Education Projects
United Way of Ottawa Community Initiative Grants: United Way of Ottawa - Funding Opportunities
Community Foundation of Ottawa Community Grants
Other Businesses, service organizations, community associations, community centres and Business Improvement Areas (BIA)
  Agencies (not-for-profit or business related) may consider funding if the mural is oriented towards that group of the community, or meets the objectives of that organization

Mural Routes

Mural Routes is a not-for-profit, charitable organization that serves the mural community throughout the province of Ontario and is dedicated to the advancement of murals as a way to revitalize and beautify cities. Mural Routes is internationally recognized for providing a network in Canada that specifically serves the needs of artists involved in mural art and has created a special niche within the arts community regarding all aspects of mural production. The Mural Routes website,  is recognized as being one of the most comprehensive available resources for mural art.

Contact us

Any proposed mural location and design must meet the requirements of both by-laws as well as federal and provincial regulations. Contact the City at (613)-580-2424 x 13350 or for more information. 

Paint it Up!

Paint it Up! map of mural locations and pictures

Paint it Up! was launched on March 1, 2010 as an enhancement to the City’s Graffiti Management Strategy and as a component of the Mural Program. This youth engagement mural program promotes the use of outdoor murals as a graffiti vandalism deterrent, while simultaneously supporting local arts and culture, enhancing the City’s beauty for residents and visitors, and engaging youth at risk in positive skill-building experiences.

This program is administered by Crime Prevention Ottawa (CPO) and funded by the City of Ottawa. Up to $50,000 in annual funding is available through CPO for local organizations wanting to hire youth to create murals in neighbourhoods experiencing a high rate of graffiti vandalism.

Outdoor murals can be an effective means of managing graffiti vandalism since, in most cases graffiti vandals demonstrate their respect for art by not tagging it. Since the program started in 2010, it has involved over 1,922 youth, ranging in age from 12 to 22 years, working on 67 projects across the city supported by an average project grant of $5,000.

The City’s role as a program partner is to assist applicants with the implementation of the mural, co-ordinate By-law approvals and help create partnerships. Crime Prevention Ottawa works with community service agencies on their applications, manages the application and allocation process, hosts Paint it Up! information sessions, helps create partnerships and manages the funding contracts. 

For more information on the Paint it Up! Application Forms and Guidelines as well as the deadline for applications for this year please visit Crime Prevention website or call 613 580-2424, ext. 22454. 

Traffic control box vinyl wrap anti-graffiti pilot project

Traffic signal control boxes along the Bank Street corridor are now covered in colourful vinyl wrap as part of a pilot project in an attempt to reduce graffiti vandalism within the city and to lower the costs of removing graffiti from City owned property. The wrap is coated with an anti-graffiti sealant which makes graffiti removal more efficient.

The graphic wrap design incorporates elements to reflect the landscape of Ottawa, while leaving minimal blank space available for graffiti tagging.

Graffiti is an ongoing and expensive maintenance issue in Ottawa like in most major cities. By finding innovative ways to reduce graffiti, we all benefit from a more beautiful city and significant cost savings related to removing graffiti from public property.

Installation of the graffiti resistant wrap on 24 traffic control boxes along Bank Street is expected to reduce costs associated with graffiti removal.

In 2011 alone, the pilot project area on Bank Street cost the City $4,460 for graffiti removal on traffic signal control boxes. City wide, expenditures for graffiti maintenance of traffic signal control boxes during the same time period exceeded $35,000.

The new vinyl wraps

The wraps cost from $197 to $397 each to install depending on the size of the box. The pilot project will be monitored for a period of one year to evaluate the benefits of further expanding the program to other high graffiti areas across the City.

The graphic wrap design incorporates elements to reflect the landscape of Ottawa, while leaving minimal blank space available for graffiti tagging. The images promote and tell the story of Ottawa's "On the Move" transformation, including Light Rail, bus, cycling and pedestrians.
This project is part of the City's Graffiti Management Strategy. Managing graffiti is most effective when a collaborative, multi-faceted approach is used that encourages the entire community to participate in graffiti prevention. The City's graffiti program follows the 4 "E" model of graffiti management, which includes Education, Empowerment, Eradication and Enforcement.
Vinyl wraps have been implemented in many Canadian municipalities as an effective tool in reducing graffiti. Canada Post recently installed graffiti resistant vinyl covers on their mail box cabinets, and the cities of Surrey and Burnaby, British Columbia use wrap on their traffic signal control boxes as a part of their graffiti management strategy.

To provide comments on this pilot project, or for more information on what the City of Ottawa is doing to prevent graffiti, please call 3-1-1 or by email at

Report graffiti on private property

You may create a service request to report graffiti on private property. Private property includes residential housing, businesses, commercial and industrial buildings. For other property, please report graffiti on public property. If you are reporting multiple graffiti offences, please complete a separate service request report for each.

Hate Graffiti

Hate graffiti is motivated by hate, bias or prejudice, based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any similar factor.  If you are reporting hate graffiti please call 3-1-1 immediately.  Due to their sensitive nature, these requests may not be submitted online.

Vandalism Graffiti

Vandalism based graffiti includes writing, painting or etching a symbol or "tag" that may or may not contain letters and is not considered offensive or hate based graffiti. Report vandalism graffiti on private property.

Offensive Graffiti

Offensive graffiti is generalized as being obscene or offensive in nature such as but not limited to, swear words or sexual drawings, and is not hate-based. Report offensive graffiti on private property.

Report graffiti on public property

You may create a service request to report graffiti on public property. Public assets include City of Ottawa property, utility boxes, schools, National Capital Commission and other government property, newspaper vending boxes and railways. For other property ownership, please report graffiti on private property. If you are reporting multiple offences, please complete a separate service request report for each.

Hate Graffiti

Hate graffiti is motivated by hate, bias or prejudice, based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any similar factor. If you are reporting hate graffiti please call 3-1-1 immediately.  Due to their sensitive nature, these requests may not be submitted online

Graffiti on OC Transpo Property

OC Transpo property includes buses, trains, bus stops, bus shelters, benches, garages, or OC Transpo administrative buildings.  For hate graffiti, please call 3-1-1 immediately. Report graffiti on OC Transpo Property.

Vandalism Graffiti

Vandalism based graffiti includes writing, painting or etching a symbol or "tag" that may or may not contain letters and is not considered offensive or hate based graffiti. Report vandalism graffiti on public property.

Offensive Graffiti

Offensive graffiti is generalized as being obscene or offensive in nature such as but not limited to, swear words or sexual drawings, and is not hate-based. Report offensive graffiti on public property.