Plans to unveil a block-long public art project along Gerrard Street East in Little India have hit a bump in the road after one of the large-scale murals was defaced with white paint.
The colourful piece at 1330 Gerrard St. E., at the corner of Highfield Road, was partially painted over sometime Nov. 7 or possibly overnight Tuesday, Nov. 6. The Riverdale Hub, a local non-profit, is behind the City of Toronto-funded GerrardART Project.
In a Nov. 13 email to The Mirror, Mohammad Asaduzzaman, president of Dinco Holdings Inc., the company that manages 1330 Gerrard St. E., indicated the plan is to “remove the mural entirely as soon as possible.”
“The owner of the building (who is from India) has spoken with the manager of Toronto Transportation Services regarding the matter. He has elaborated the letter of permission, adding details to the idea and clarifying the meaning of the letter and its discourse. The letter of permission was intended to show general support to City of Toronto’s plans,” Asaduzzaman wrote.
“Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Enterprise and/or Ms. Nuzhath (Leedham, executive director of The Riverdale Hub and the Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre) has never approached us with (a) formal proposal for our approval. The owner of the building has informed the City of Toronto about his plan to restore the defaced walls.”
Councillor Paula Fletcher said she’s asked city staff to do a complete investigation of all parties involved and to explore what permissions – verbal or written – were given for the public art project.
“As I understand it, there was a sign off for the mural, but I’m now waiting to have that corroborated,” she said late Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve asked city staff to peel back the layers.”
Fletcher went on to express her disappointment that such a big project was halfway painted over after being completed.
“It’s a very aggressive response,” she said, adding city staff should be reporting back on all the details pertaining to the sign-off for this project within the next couple of days.
“It’s quite confusing, very complicated and terribly unfortunate.”
The Ward 30 representative said the ideal outcome would be to reinstate the mural at that site.
“I’m hoping at the end of the day cooler heads will prevail all around. We’re all in problem-solving mode right now,” Fletcher said, adding she intends to meet with all involved groups in the coming weeks to remedy this situation.
Fifty-five Division police has looked into the situation, but did not wish to comment on it further.
The Riverdale Hub had plans to hold a media event Friday, Nov. 9 for the GerrardART Project followed by completion celebrations during last weekend’s Diwali festival in Little India.
However, on Nov. 7, the Riverdale Hub contacted the more than 75 people it had invited to the launch informing them “due to circumstances beyond our control” the event would be postponed.
“These postponements are not indefinite and we hope to be in contact soon with the details of a new date and time on which this event will be held,” read an email.
Representatives from The Riverdale Hub did not wish to comment further on the defaced mural.