Toronto sign needs $150K from taxpayers for maintenance until end of 2016, committee says

Toronto loves the Toronto sign but taxpayers might have to pay $150,000 to keep the iconic installation in good shape for the rest of the year.

Originally a temporary installation for Pan-Am Games, sign has since evoked 'passionate civic pride'

A city staff report recommends protecting the Toronto sign against rampant commercial use, which it says could undermine its popularity. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

Toronto loves the Toronto sign but taxpayers might have to pay $150,000 to keep the iconic installation in good shape for the rest of the year.

On Tuesday, city council's economic development committee voted to accept a recommendation in a staff report to spend the money on general maintenance of the sign, including vinyl wraps around each letter, graffitti removal, bird proofing and synchronizing the lighting of city hall towers and fountains with the sign.

City council will have the final say in May.

Staff also recommended the city consider finding money in next year's budget to keep the Toronto sign in place beyond 2017. Eventually, the city will have to devote more money to keeping the sign in place long-term. 

Originally created as a temporary installation for last summer's Pan-Am Games, the multi-coloured 3D sign beside the city hall reflecting pool/skating rink has quickly reached iconic status.

Mike Williams, general manager of the city's Economic Development and Culture Division, authored the report that was presented to the economic development committee Tuesday.

He said that 122 million social media impressions of the sign had circulated since it was installed.

"We built a sign that we thought would last a couple of months and we hit a home run," he said. 
"The installation proved to be wildly popular with locals and visitors alike, both inspiring and highlighting the passionate civic pride that continues to build in Toronto."

Staff also suggested the city consider creating a separate, smaller sign that can be taken to festivals and outdoor events. The committee gave staff the green light Tuesday to explore that option.

Staff estimated it would cost taxpayers $200,000 to build a mobile sign and truck it around town.

A city report says the multi-coloured, 3D Toronto sign has generated positive international buzz for the city. (David Donnelly/CBC)

With files from Andrew Lupton


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