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New EY street sign logos in limbo but alive pending Council consideration

City staff answer Janet Davis question at PWI committtee meeting 180919 -YOUTUBE screen capture

City staff answer Janet Davis question at PWI committtee meeting 180919 -YOUTUBE screen capture


The question of whether the East York logo can appear on new and replacement street signs in the former borough remains up in the air but still alive after Toronto’s City Council’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee was deadlocked and unable to agree even to receive for information the staff report on the matter.

“The item will go to Council without recommendations,” noted committee chair Jaye Robinson, who opposed a motion by Anthony Perruzza of Ward 8 (York West), that recommended the city amend its corporate identity policy to allow decals bearing the logo to be affixed to signs within the borders of the erstwhile municipality, with “the estimated $3-4,000 cost to be found internally in the Transportation Service department’s operating budget.”

As reported yesterday, the report was generated after 35-5 approval of a motion from Ward 29 Councillor Mary Fragedakis and Ward 31’s Janet Davis council’s July meeting.  That arose following a meeting with EY boosters and staff in May on the heels of reports in East York Chronicle (in November of last year) that the logos were disappearing off replacement signs and expressions of concern by both the East York Historical Society (EYHS) and The East York Foundation (EYF) among others.

While making no recommendation to permit the logos to be affixed to new and replacement signs, the staff report presented to the committee provided two design options that would do so, one of which was included as the favoured configuration in an amendment to Mr. Perruzza’s motion.

The motion failed on a 3-3 vote, with councillors Christin Carmichael Greb and Chin Lee supporting it against three “no” votes, by chairman Robinson, Stephen Holyday and Giorgio Mammoliti.  But Ms. Robinson’s motion to simply receive the report for information, as recommended by staff, was also lost on the same split, leaving the question in limbo.

Perruzza, who introduced the motion on behalf of his East York counterparts, who are not members of the committee, also spoke passionately about the need to preserve the heritage and history of the five former municipalities that were combined with the old City of Toronto to make the new amalgamated city in 1998.

“East York is a signpost of our recent history and there are some folks who have an affinity to that signpost.  They just simply don’t want it to be discarded on the dust heap of history,” he said.

Only three members of the public made deputations to the committee on the matter including East York Hall of Fame president Justin Van Dette and a representative of a Leaside ratepayers organization, all in support of allowing the decals.  The committee had also received similar written communications from eight people yesterday, including one from EYF chair Ray White, offering to look at sharing the cost of the decals, and another four just prior to the meeting.

While not members of the committee, both Ms. Davis and Ms. Fragedakis also spoke in favour of Perruzza’s motion (any member of the council can ask questions and speak on any item at any committee meeting) noting that widespread use of the logo continues throughout their wards and is used by organizations, at events and even, Davis noted, “on tattoos” sported by students at East York Collegiate high school.

“Our community of East York has an enduring sense of identity,” Davis told the committee.  “It has remained strong since amalgamation and there is an incredible sense of pride in our community amongst all of the neighbourhoods.  I don’t see any problem with helping us maintain that sense of community and pride by putting a small logo on our signs.”

Boroughs in cities across the world such as New York and Montreal “continue to have their identities and continue to have them identified in the public space,” she noted.  And drawing an analogy with Quebec’s role in Canada, Davis went on to argue that Canada “has grown as a country by accommodating local differences. We’ve accommodated Quebec, there are ways that we have kept our country united by finding accommodation.

“People recognize that we’re special.  People love where they live.  This small accommodation is one the city can afford and support without in any way jeopardizing the city’s corporate brand.”

Fragedakis took issue with concerns expressed by two committee members about going against the city’s existing identity and branding policy and emphasized that preserving former municipalities’ identities is an important part of the city’s heritage.

“We have a whole city department dedicated to heritage.  I think this is an extension of our current policy that recognizes neighbourhoods.  The city’s corporate identity policy was approved back in 2000” and updating the policy “is actually helpful and healthy.  It’s actually the reason we meet as a council.  We have no reason to meet if all we do is approve what staff tells us to approve.

“I don’t think it undermines our corporate identity, I think it actually helps to bring our city’s history to life,” she added, going on to say that she is also supportive of other former municipalities also having logos on their signs.

The three nay voters opposed the measure on diverse grounds.  Councillor Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) suggested it could open the door to a confusing array of additional requests creating technical difficulties, while committee chair Robinson of Ward 25 (Don Valley West) voiced concerns about the impact on the city’s “brand” and the readability of the signs.

However a staff representative said the department had no concerns with the designs as far as visibility and readability is concerned.  Answering a question from Davis a staff member said even the busiest of the three designs “doesn’t impact the visibility of the street name, which is the ultimate purpose of the sign,” while another staff member said the cost could be accommodated through the department’s existing budget.

Ironically, while Robinson noted that she had been an active “door-knocking” opponent of amalgamation herself, she seemed most concerned that allowing the decals could undermine the city’s corporate branding policy.

“Now we are Toronto, that’s our name, we’re not the former cities we are one city and the city is Toronto,” she said prior to voting against the Perruzza motion.

One councillor who seemed to be on both sides of the issue, but whose negative vote ultimately left the matter suspended in the ether was Ward 7’s Giorgio Mammoliti.

Mr. Mammoliti, while saying he “supports the idea of the former municipalities boosting their identities and doesn’t have a problem with the sign designs,” had a procedural concern.

Although he strongly believes that “our neighbourhoods need special recognition when it comes to signage, it makes them proud who they are” and that many feel betrayed by the results of amalgamation, Mr. Mammoliti opined that “making policy on the fly” which contradicts an existing one “isn’t the way to go about it” but that “it should be up to council to decide.”

That’s exactly what is likely to happen assuming that Fragedakis, Davis or another councillor to introduces a motion similar to Perruzza’s committee proposal at the October 2 meeting of the full council.  At which point the entire discussion can be revisited and multiplied by eight.


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