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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Corso Italia: Keeping the Neighbourhood Beautiful

Clean Toronto Together: Corso Italia April 7, 2011 by wobuilt.com, photos: Olga Goubar

Photo Collage: Clean Toronto Together Initiative
Corso Italia Toronto Ward 17, April 7, 2011
2011 @ wobuilt.com

"The City of Toronto wants to eliminate graffiti from city buildings and infrastructure as well as private property. By doing so, the City will be cleaner and more vibrant and it will make Toronto a more attractive place for everyone."
toronto.ca: Graffiti Management Program

Today Mayor Rob Ford was at Corso Italia as part of the City’s Clean Toronto Together campaign.

I was late arriving so I didn’t see him remove some graffiti from an alley on St. Clair Avenue West, but there is a great photo of him in the National Post. This is one of the City’s clean-up initiatives prior to Earth Day, April 22nd.

My own personal view about graffiti (from the Italian word graffiato: scratched) is somewhat ambiguous. I have seen some graffiti that I find interesting and would happily call art. But most graffiti holds very little merit as they are simple tags or identification marks. Of course the biggest crime for a property owner is that it is done without permission and is therefore an act of vandalism.

Today, graffiti is associated with lifestyles that remain hidden from view, gang activities and has a feel of the unsavory. Therefore, presently most graffiti unfortunately give areas a run down, unsafe and impoverished atmosphere and this can impact prospective customers, who might not want to visit. If graffiti was done legally with the permission of the property owners as a mural or decorative art it could actually benefit an area and make it unique and help it to be come a destination for visitors.

As a member of the Corso Italia BIA we are much in favour of keeping the area nice; and as mentioned above most graffiti unfortunately does not enhance buildings. It needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner and will have to involve many parties from the City and the community.

Why would we care about the area and why are we a staunch advocate that graffiti has to be dealt with either by introducing art or through clean-up? Well, it is all about our branding, our prospective innovative projects and our being active in the community. We are a design and build company, with emphasis on boutique, good value, excellence and affordability, but looking for the wow factor in each project. Our office location has to reinforce this image.

Corso Italia is an area that has a lot of boutiques selling Italian designed clothes, shoes and is still family orientated. It is very much a traditional high street with lots of quality shops. Simple tag graffiti does look out of place and diminishes the area, however, murals and decorative art that is following a larger plan for the area would likely add interest. The same way, it is important for us to maintain an image, it is important for Corso Italia. As long as it is family orientated, customers have to feel comfortable when here. Most street level shops rely heavily on walk-in traffic and would suffer greatly if customers stayed away.

As for the wall the mayor cleaned – there is a lot more to come, possibly a mural, hopefully from a design by a local Corso Italia artist.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links:
wobuilt's blog: Building the Friendship of Neighbours in Business

wobuilt's blog: Our New Location Is at the Vibrant Corso Italia Neighborhood

wobuilt's blog: Wo-Built Inc. Is on the Move!

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