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Crews begin installing new and enhanced ‘Toronto’ sign at Nathan Phillips Square

Click to play video: 'Iconic ‘Toronto’ sign at Nathan Phillips Square getting upgraded'
Iconic ‘Toronto’ sign at Nathan Phillips Square getting upgraded
WATCH ABOVE: Mayor John Tory announced on Thursday the temporary removal of the city’s iconic ‘Toronto’ sign as he assured the public that it is being replaced with a newer and more durable sign within a short period of time. – Sep 10, 2020

A popular backdrop for photos and videos, the ‘Toronto’ sign in Nathan Phillips Square is in the process of being replaced with what officials say will be a more durable, permanent, and vibrant version of the existing icon.

“It’s going to be something that’s even brighter and even more colourful so we can do an even better job with it, and people will want to have their picture taken even more,” Mayor John Tory said during an announcement at the square on Thursday.

The existing sign, which was right next to the pond in front of Toronto city hall and was removed on Thursday, was erected in 2015 as a temporary installation for the Pan American and Parapan American Games. However, officials kept the sign in place after it proved to be a draw for residents and tourists.

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In 2019, City of Toronto staff said ongoing repairs and enhancements to keep the temporary illuminated sign operating would prove more costly than purchasing a new sign. Tory said staff utilized decorative wrapping on the shell to prevent decay, adding water was getting into the electronics.

After council approval, it was estimated the City will be spending up to $762,000 in reserve money in order to remove the old sign, for Toronto-based Unit 11 to manufacture and install the enhanced sign, and to maintain it for a three-year period. When asked about the cost of the sign, Tory said the amount spent on the new sign is worth it.

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“We talked about it and realized some people might say, ‘Why are you spending the money on that?’ I think people would approve of us in investing in a new sign because it’s very popular with people,” he said.

“I think it is an iconic attraction across the world. It helps brand the city.”

Click to play video: 'Community of Orono asking for iconic ‘Toronto’ sign'
Community of Orono asking for iconic ‘Toronto’ sign

While the sign will largely be the same as the existing structure, including the maple leaf and the medicine wheel, staff said the new sign will be easier to maintain and will have “augmented lighting capacity” and unspecified “creative features to support public engagement.”

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City officials said additional enhancements over and above what has been planned can be done, but it would require philanthropic support.

It was estimated the new sign will be up and running on or around Sept. 18.

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