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Re-installation of Sam the Record Man sign in limbo

the sam the record man sign has found a new home
The flagship Sam the Record Man store at 347 Yonge Street at Gould Street in downtown Toronto, Canada on June 29, 2007, one day before closing permanently on June 30, 2007. Michael Hudson / The Canadian Press

TORONTO – The iconic neon Sam the Record Man sign may not return to Toronto’s streets.

Ryerson University purchased the former record store site at 347 and 349 Yonge Street in 2008 with a pledge to restore and re-install the sign on either the Ryerson property on Yonge Street or the Ryerson Library property.

But now, according to documents on the Toronto.ca website, that agreement might soon change because re-installing the sign presents a series of problems.

In a written statement to Global News, Ryerson University spokesperson Michael Forbes said the school respect’s the “fond memories” that people have of the huge neon sign.

According to the documents, Ryerson consulted with signage company Gregory Signs & Engraving Ltd, who identified several problems with re-installing the signs, including the risk of mercury spillage, a lack of qualified neon sign professional, high maintenance costs and structural risks related to mounting the sign. The document does not however detail what the structural risks.

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The documents go on to say that Ryerson consulted with Zeidler Partnership Architects, who designed the new Student Learning building. The designer cited energy concerns, design conflicts and the possibility of the neon sign distracting students as reasons why it should not be mounted on the new building.

Ryerson will however, store the sign for at least two more years.

But the city’s proposing a new way to commemorate the store including a commemorative insert on the sidewalk near where the building once stood. It also proposes the university launch a website entitled “Music on Yonge – celebrating 70 years of Sam’s.”

“We look forward to showing Council our extensive commemoration plan honouring Sam’s, the history of music on Yonge Street, and the site’s importance to Toronto and Canadians,” Forbes said in the statement. “We believe the plan is a meaningful legacy that will inform future generations of what Sam’s has meant to Toronto and Canada.”

Toronto and East York Community Council will debate the proposal on September 10.