A police/community mural project discourages vandalism and beautifies East Chinatown buildings as well as drawing people to the Gerrard St. and Broadview Ave. business district.
With the assistance of the Toronto Police Service, the City of Toronto, StreetARToronto, Riverdale Collegiate Institute students and local graffiti artists, seven large-scale murals of world monuments such as the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China, now adorn the sides of buildings in the community.
Summer students at the school collaborated with the artists to create the murals unveiled on August 31.
Valerie Mah, a member of the Service’s Chinese Consultative Committee who coordinated the mural installation with Constable Kent Vuong, said the project has transformed the community’s streetscape and provided a sense of pride among residents.
“We have changed the space and the community is quite excited,” said Mah, the first Chinese woman to become a Toronto District School Board principal. “As they go by, they have been giving us high-fives.”
A total of 15 students were involved in the project.
“They were attending summer school so, when I approached the vice-principal and he checked with them, they were only too happy to contribute because the time they spent was part of their volunteer hours,” added Mah.
Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher attended the unveiling that was followed by a walking tour of the murals.
“These beautiful new murals make a big difference in this community,” she said. “This is as a result of a great partnership and I am so proud of everyone in this community that made this happen.”
Mike Kennedy was the project’s artist co-ordinator.
“The students helped prime the walls and 22 artists did the murals,” he said. “This was a super-interesting project and I am so proud of everyone that was involved.”
Community Response Unit officers in 55 Division were instrumental in recognizing significant ongoing graffiti vandalism issues in the area and working with property owners and community members to find a solution.
“I want to thank everyone for their support in helping to make this thing possible,” said Constable Kent Vuong.
A year ago, officers in the Division, along with students and artists, combined to create a mural on a nearby building constantly targeted by taggers.
The Zhong Huan Men Archway, a traditional Chinatown gate welcoming visitors to the bustling Asian business community, stands in front of that building.