Sister cities Toronto and Chicago partnering to create street art for Canada 150 and Year of Public Art

July 11, 2017

The City of Toronto and the City of Chicago are participating in a cultural exchange that will result in a street art project in both cities to commemorate Canada's 150th birthday and the "Year of Public Art" that is taking place in Chicago.

The joint initiative will involve a Chicago artist creating a piece of street art in Toronto while a Toronto artist does the same thing in Chicago. 

"This venture is an exciting project for both cities. It will promote and increase awareness of street art and its role in enhancing the vitality of our streetscapes," said Mayor John Tory. "Street art that is seen on a daily basis can trigger beautification, social transformation and economic benefits."

"Public art transforms a place from being a mere place, to a place of joy," said Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park). "I am thrilled that our neighbourhood gateway to the lake is becoming an important piece of public art."

The new Toronto artwork will be created on the Roncesvalles Foot Bridge that connects west-end communities to the waterfront. Chicago-based abstract artist Justus Roe will transform the popular pedestrian and cycling thoroughfare in collaboration with the STEPS Initiative, an award-winning, Toronto-based public arts organization. Roe will arrive on July 13 and will work most days with assistants until the mural is completed before the end of this month.

STEPS will also be engaging the wider community in the project through a series of community painting days, as well as providing opportunities for local emerging artists and Parkdale youth.

The announcement about a Toronto artist travelling to Chicago will be made soon.

The Toronto project is being co-ordinated by the City's StART program with support from the Economic Development and Culture Division. StART, launched in 2012 as a program of Transportation Services' Public Realm Section, is an innovative, public-private partnership designed to develop, support, promote and increase awareness of street art and its ability to beautify the city's visual landscape and reduce graffiti vandalism.

This news release is also available on the City's website:

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. In 2017, Toronto will honour Canada's 150th birthday with "TO Canada with Love," a year-long program of celebrations, commemorations and exhibitions. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at and on Instagram at

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Media contact: Steve Johnston, Strategic Communications, 416-392-4391, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.