Extensive damage to public artwork

by Bonnie Weppler  

Our community’s beautiful public artwork, under the Queensway overpass on Main Street, was heavily damaged on two occasions by provincial Ministry of Transportation (MOT) workers and their jackhammers during the month of June.

With no advance notification to the City or the Community Association, workers removed chunks of concrete from the artwork on the evening of June 6. Twenty-four cuts were observed on the east side of the mural while the west side received 10 cuts. The cuts were of differing lengths and widths. Further cuts were made by MOT workers on June 26 and 27, and wooden forms were installed over the damaged portion of the underpass.

The west side of the public artwork sustained 10 cuts, considerably fewer than the east side which was marred by 24 cuts. Photo by Bonnie Weppler

The west side of the public artwork sustained 10 cuts, considerably fewer than the east side which was marred by 24 cuts. Photo by Bonnie Weppler

As Ministry of Transportation staff later explained to Ian Grabina, Assistant to Councillor David Chernushenko, “concrete under the mural had started to spall off and this was flagged … as a potential safety hazard”.

The Ministry noted, “that there were large empty pockets under the concrete in places that could easily be dislodged, with the potential to fall on passers-by.” This work is not connected in any way with the upcoming Main Street overpass replacement work, which according to estimates will not begin for five to 10 years.

This story did have a happy ending, however. During the June OOECA meeting, Councillor Chernushenko reported that the MOT would be back to replace the missing concrete and the two artists would be invited back to redo these damaged pieces. This has in fact now taken place – the artwork was fully restored by the artists in mid-July.

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Filed in: Features, Front Page, News

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