A Neighbourhood Paints its way toward Community Building
Colour, shape, style and effort combined this past summer to create a painted street mural project thanks to the will, talent and hard work of those associated with the Regal Heights Residents Association.
Community activist Dave Meslin got the ball rolling a year ago when he proposed a neighbourhood street mural, which received immediate and unanimous support from the residents association. Using street chalk, Meslin coordinated the street project, which would pave the way this summer for something a little more permanent and a lot more ambitious.
Using paint, Meslin coordinated the design, sketch and painting of a street mural for Springmount Ave. just south of Rosemount. Meslin recruited local artist Melissa Frew and asked her to design a sketch. He suggested a water theme since the street painting was being placed directly over the buried Garrison Creek.
“The hardest part of making a street mural,” says Meslin, “is keeping the cars off the road while the paint dries, so when I heard about the Regal Heights Street Party it occurred to me that a pre-planned road closure would be the perfect opportunity to create our ground-level masterpiece.”
Meslin thought the mural team need a technical expert so he asked renowned street artist Victor Fraser to come on board and he accepted. From Melissa Frew’s sketch, the outlines for the mural were drawn and then on June 6, the day of the neighbourhood’s semi-annual street party, 20 area kids were asked to help paint inside the lines.
“The murals bring communities together in a collaborative creative process, building community and strengthening relationships,” says Meslin. “As a bonus, the final product also serves as a traffic-calming measure as cars tend to slow down as they approach the painting.”
A push is now on at city hall to legalize the murals thanks to a permit process as other cities in Canada and the U.S. have done.
If you want to see more street murals in Toronto, Meslin suggests the following:
- Contact your city councillor and ask why Toronto doesn’t have an official permit process.
- Share this blog.
- Don’t wait for the city to play catch-up with the rest of the world. Organize a community mural in your neighbourhood this summer.