A new street mural has been installed in Kensington Market by local community members as the first instalment in the City of Toronto's StART Road Mural Pilot Project. Despite prohibiting the installation of street murals in 2015, City Council subsequently voted to allow select community organizations to install street murals as part of a pilot project.

Located on Baldwin Street, the mural features graphics that represent the neighbourhood. The vivid assortment of vegetables and fruits signifies Kensington Market's identity as a neighbourhood known for its eclectic variety of grocery stores and restaurants. The mural is the first stage of a four-stage pilot project that will see street murals installed on Condor Avenue (west of Greenwood subway yard), Lauder Avenue (near Dufferin and St. Clair), Hiawatha Road (Little India), and in North York (where a specific location is yet to be disclosed), by October 31st, 2016. 

Kensington Market Street Mural, TorontoAerial view of the mural, image courtesy of Stas Ukhanov.

The StART Road Mural Pilot Project allows community organizations to install murals on low-traffic streets during scheduled events that permit road closures. The initiative emerged through a concerted effort by urban advocates—including some City Councillors—who advocate in favour of road murals as a place-making and community-building exercise. Prompted by the community-led installation of a street mural in the Regal Heights neighbourhood in 2015—which moved the City to disallow street murals citing traffic, safety, and maintenance concerns—the pilot project was established in order to determine the feasibility, durability, and safety concerns associated with this type of public art.

Kensington Market Street Mural, TorontoThe completed mural, image courtesy of Sean Marhsall

Four murals will be installed as part of the pilot project, which culminates in October. As part of this initiative, community organizations must hold local consultations to ensure support for each project, in addition to covering the cost of the murals, as well as recruiting local residents in their installation and maintenance. Once the projects have been installed, the City of Toronto's Transportation Services division will analyze the feasibility of these installations in order to consider establishing a permanent framework for street murals.

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We will keep you updated as the pilot project continues, and the City's legislation on street murals continues to take shape. Want to share your thoughts about the initiative? Leave a comment in the space below this page, or join Kensington Market's ongoing 'Neighbourhood Node' Forum conversation.