Councillor Josh Matlow

Rathnelly residents looking to spruce up defaced McPherson Street railway overpass

February 1, 2013



Justin Skinner


With a long-standing mural in their community defaced by tagging, residents in the self-titled Republic of Rathnelly are looking for new solutions to beautify the site.


The mural, on a railway overpass on McPherson Street near Dupont St. and Avenue Rd., was tagged by vandals last year. Once the tagging began, it became notably worse as more graffiti was added to the overpass.


At a community meeting, residents from the area discussed ways of refurbishing the mural and may also look into the possibility of installing a living wall replete with greenery to help improve the appearance of the overpass.


“I don’t get the sense that there’s a strong bias for or against the living wall,” said Rathnelly Area Residents Association president Pam MacDonald. “Someone spoke to me about a combination that includes actually framing parts of the existing mural and letting vines grow around it so it looks like you’re looking through a window.”


A working group with members of the association will look into various options, including the feasibility of installing a living wall, which they hope would both add some greenery to the site and deter further graffiti.


The group is looking to work with the City of Toronto, which has a fund for streetscape enhancement that can put money toward whatever they choose.


“We have, in the past, provided grants for murals and other small landscaping projects,” said Robert Mays of the City of Toronto’s Public Realm Department. “We’re always looking for some form of partnership with community organizations on projects like this.”


MacDonald said the working group will likely start discussing options over the next few weeks and will present whatever they decide is the best course of action at a larger meeting in May.


“This is a neighbourhood that really works well together, so we’ll find something the whole neighbourhood will like,” she said.


Area councillor Josh Matlow has agreed to help the working group at least at the outset, ensuring they have access to city resources for the project. He noted that, while he will support whatever the residents choose, there are various other considerations to be taken into account.


“(The community) needs to decide what they’re doing and then look at issues of liability, maintenance and durability,” he said.


Whatever the residents decide, MacDonald said it should serve as an incentive for locals to keep their neighbourhood clean.


“It will provide a perfect opportunity for the neighbourhood to be part of an annual tidying up there,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us to get out in April as a group and (clean the area.)”


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