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CITY FORCES STORE TO PAINT OVER DRUG PARA

By Alfa, May 9, 2005 | |
  1. Alfa
    CITY FORCES STORE TO PAINT OVER DRUG PARAPHENALIA


    Sleepy and Dopey are fine. But hi ho, hi ho: the doobie and the bong have got to go, say city bylaw enforcement officers.


    So Sweet Leaf Smoke Shop owners Colleen and Kenny Banks will hire an artist to paint over the drug accessories on their eight-month-old mural in north-end Halifax.


    "We're just waiting for the weather to change," said Colleen Banks of the mural that sparked a community meeting as the paint was drying last fall.


    "We're just doing what made everybody in the neighbourhood happy. We don't want any problems."


    Artist Kevin Giberson's first mural - a huge bong, painted last summer


    - lasted only four days before neighbours complained. So the Banks got him to paint the current mural at the end of August, featuring the Seven Dwarfs holding a doobie, bong and incense holder. They paid him $1,850 for both murals.


    When a neighbour called to say he wasn't comfortable walking past the dwarfs and their bong with his three-year-old, Kenny Banks wasn't eager to spend more to remove it.


    No money


    "I said, 'I just spent $1,850 to have it put there. I don't have another $1,850 to remove it,'" Kenny Banks said yesterday.


    The city got involved in February. City spokesman John O'Brien says the mural violates the Halifax peninsula land-use bylaw, which says signs advertising products for sale must be less than one metre high, and located above the ground-floor windows.


    Since customers can buy the bong and the incense holder inside Sweet Leaf, O 'Brien said, the mural is considered advertising.


    "The dwarfs aren't the problem as far as we're concerned," O'Brien said.


    The couple collected hundreds of signatures on a petition calling on the city to let the picture stand as is, but eventually agreed to get rid of everything but the dwarfs. The city has given them until May 1.


    Kenny Banks thinks he's been singled out because of what he sells. A few blocks away, he said, Halifax Seed has flowers painted all over its building, and no one has complained that they're advertising.


    O'Brien said the city did not notify the Walt Disney Co., which strictly enforces the use of its cartoon characters. Disney has not been in touch with the couple.

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