News / Toronto

Spoiling views in the Six? City orders Drake mural be removed

“It’s a beautiful piece of art of Drake keeping a watchful eye over his city,” insists owner.

A commissioned mural of Drake painted on the side of 18 Croft St. The property owners are fighting a city order to have the mural removed.

Eduardo Lima/ Metro

A commissioned mural of Drake painted on the side of 18 Croft St. The property owners are fighting a city order to have the mural removed.

When Craig Small looks at a mural of Drake that adorns the side of his property, he sees an artistic tribute to one of Toronto’s most popular ambassadors.

But when city officials look at the same picture, they see vandalism.

Small and his business partner at The Juggernaut – a visual effects and animation studio – recently bought a piece of property at 18 Croft St. to use as a pop-up art gallery.

They commissioned local artist Kestin Cornwall to paint a mural on the outside, and the painter created a mural depicting the Six’s favourite rapper.

“It’s a beautiful piece of art of Drake keeping a watchful eye over his city,” Small said, adding the painting has been popular with his neighbours.

However, the city sent Small a graffiti advisory last week – just days after the mural was finished – demanding it be removed.

“It’s just shocking,” he said, noting it’s not clear if anyone from the neighbourhood complained about the painting or if city staff took the initiative on their own.

City officials were unavailable for comment Sunday.

Under the municipal code, street art and graffiti murals are permitted provided they “aesthetically enhance” the area and are done with the property owner’s permission.

Graffiti must be removed if it’s considered tagging, or contains hateful or profane language.

Small praised the city’s Street Art program for its efforts in beautifying different corners of Toronto and said he doesn’t understand how his commissioned mural qualifies as vandalism.

The city has given Small until Nov. 28 to remove the mural, but he says he’s going to fight the order.

“No, I will not comply. If they want to pursue it further with me, that’s fine,” he said.

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