Moncton — As the street art festival Inspire enters its second year in Moncton, residents are voicing their displeasure over a lack of available parking directly in front of the many new murals being painted in the city.
The festival (June 15-19) is a celebration of arts and culture, and a showcase for world-renowned street artists beautifying the city’s urban landscape, but organizers have been busy fielding complaints from people upset over the distance they must cover on foot to view many of the pieces.
“I don’t go downtown anymore due to the lack of available parking so I doubt I’ll even get to see most of these murals,” says Peter Boudreau. “I hear the one behind that Wize Guyz bar is cool, but the closest lot with free after-hours parking is, like, across the street.
“There’s no way I’m getting out of my car to go gawk at some painting when I can just look up pictures of it on phone,” he adds.
Organizers have so far had to deal with angry locals and drivers illegally parking their cars in front of the murals, knocking over tools and paint cans in the process and, in one case, causing extensive damage to an electric scissor lift.
To combat this, volunteers have installed no-parking notices at many festival locations, though many confused residents are ignoring the signs, seeing them instead as part of the art installations themselves.
For some, the frustration around the festival extends beyond the lack of parking.
“It’s classic Big Government, forcing art down people’s throats,” says Kris MacKay of Riverview. “I don’t like being forced to look at things I don’t want to look at — I thought this was a free country.
“I liked these buildings better when they were all dilapidated and gross. Murals made out of pigeon excrement don’t cost taxpayers anything,” he adds.
While none of the murals have been vandalized, organizers are concerned about the increasing level of hostility toward the paintings. Some volunteers warn the bright colours and creative imagery could confuse and anger many of the more traditional residents.
“Someone threw a Tims coffee cup at my head yesterday,” says artist Dan Kitchener, who came from England to take part in the festival. “It’s good to see the locals participating in the artistic process.”
Some residents are taking their complaints all the way to City Hall, demanding the city fund more murals painted in forest camo, and pay artists to paint yellow parking lines on many of the city’s abandoned downtown lots.