Digital preservation – Permanent record to be kept of temporary murals along Finch

Back in 2019, under the watch of Arts Etobicoke, and other partners, 33 murals were painted along a pre-existing noise wall near a section of the Finch West Light Rail Transit line.  A plan has been in place to remove the wall so work crews can deliver new bike lanes, widened sidewalks and a multi-use pathway. The artwork will live on in a permanent record of high-resolution digital photos and new opportunities are being sought. Take a tour below.

This artwork may be coming down, but the opportunity is not lost.

Murals created near a section of the Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project are being preserved – and shared – while opportunities to create more wonderful works are being identified along the corridor.

Image shows a section of the wall.
The North Etobicoke Mural Project was produced and created in partnership with the City of Toronto and StreetARToronto (StART), Arts Etobicoke, Women Paint, the STEPS Initiative, Mural Routes, and is a signature project of the Cultural Hotspot with support from project sponsor Toronto Pearson International Airport and paint sponsor Dulux Canada. (Metrolinx photo)

With the Finch West LRT route set for completion in 2023, Northwest Toronto residents can look forward to new transit connections and some additional benefits.

As part of the Metrolinx plan to improve the surrounding neighbourhood, the transit agency’s efforts include new bike lanes, widened sidewalks and a multi-use pathway near along Finch Avenue near Islington Avenue.

Before this work can begin, water, storm and sanitary pipes buried underground must be relocated. The streetlights and boulevards must also be removed to create space to widen the road.

For all of this to happen, a noise wall on the north side of Finch Ave. W. must be removed.

In a 2019 partnership involving the City or Toronto, Arts Etobicoke, and others, 33 artists painted murals along a more than 2,650 sq.ft section of the wall. More murals were added in 2020, as a great opportunity to showcase remarkable talent of mid-career and young artists, and the creators delivered some wonderful art.

Image shows the wall and art on in.
The art showcased was exceptional. (Metrolinx photo)

The wall is being removed so work can begin, as planned, on the bike lanes, widened sidewalks and multi-use pathway. However, the artwork, that was intended to be fleeting, will live on and be shared in digital form.

Earlier this month, in cooperation with Arts Etobicoke, Metrolinx arranged for high-resolution photos to be taken of the murals. With a permanent record of this art, the transit agency is looking for a community partner that can publicly display the images.

Metrolinx did discuss options for moving the murals with city officials, however it became clear moving the wall panels would inevitably damage the paint, making photos the best choice to preserve the art.

So the art showing will continue long after originally planned.

And it’ll also help guide more conversations with the community’s to showcase local culture and art that will be as moving as the new transit system itself.

Story by Mike Winterburn, Metrolinx Senior Advisor