roncesvalles toronto

Yellow brick road repainted in Toronto neighbourhood and not everyone likes the idea

A "yellow brick road" PR stunt caused a major headache for businesses and residents of a Toronto neighbourhood before the weekend, and though well-intentioned, the issues with the gimmick didn't stop there.

Yellow paint appeared this weekend along Roncesvalles as part of a "There's No Place Like Roncy" shop local campaign, but it was a process to get the project completed.

The two-kilometre stretch of paint is supposed to inspire people to take photos and lead them to local businesses where they can shop, and was put on by Roncesvalles BIA and Toronto agency The Local Collective.

"Dry weather conditions would have allowed the team to paint the whole two-kilometre stretch of the sidewalk in a single shot, however this was not possible and instead small stretches of the sidewalk had to be painted each day last week," Roncesvalles BIA vice-chair Adam Langley tells blogTO.

"We regret that rainy weather conditions resulted in a bleeding of the paint, but the cleaning crew diligently worked on cleaning the sidewalk and was able to complete the painting Friday evening for a beautiful reveal on Saturday morning."

Unfortunately for some businesses such as restaurants and bars, a Friday evening isn't the ideal time to be covering the sidewalk outside with wet paint without notice.

Restaurant Ding-A-Wing actually commented on an Instagram post about the campaign from Roncesvalles BIA criticizing it: "Thanks for painting the sidewalk while we were open on a Friday night at 8 p.m. Thanks for thinking of us night time businesses."

"Nothing like a shop local initiative that actively stops people from shopping local," someone replied.

While Round the Horn managed to avoid the issues with paint bleeding caused by rain that other businesses went through, owner Kristin McNeill tells blogTO that she wasn't notified that the stretch of sidewalk in front of her bar would be painted starting around 9 p.m. Friday night.

"I don't think painting the sidewalk and putting up caution tape in front of the Roncy restaurants and bars at peak time on a Friday night was well thought out," McNeill tells blogTO.

"It had people confused, it made our businesses look closed, and it forced guests on to the road to enter or exit. I can't imagine they would paint in front of retail stores at 2 p.m. on Saturday."

McNeill feels the issue isn't necessarily with the campaign itself, just that it hasn't been very well timed or explained.

"Many people in the neighborhood don't understand the campaign," says McNeill.

"I've been asked countless times what the yellow paint is all about and why. The campaign would have made more sense in the summer when it isn't so messy out."

The Local Collective founder and chief creative officer Matt Litzinger wanted the campaign to be "something larger than life and magical" and "another great Toronto tourist attraction."

While the campaign may have initially backfired somewhat and actually discouraged foot traffic to some businesses more than it encouraged it, now that it's completed we can only hope people start to understand the Wizard of Oz theme and shop local this holiday season.

"Thank you for bringing a bit of whimsy and fun to Roncy for the holiday season," someone weighed in on one of the "There's No Place Like Roncy" Instagram posts.

"It was unfortunate about the rain on the first day but given the really serious issues we've all been dealing with this doesn't compare. We are a neighbourhood and we do care about each other and the small businesses that help us feel like a community and not a mall."

Lead photo by

Wild Child


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