Fear not, selfie-takers and tourists, the “iconic” Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square is set to be replaced by a permanent version in the coming months.
The sign was installed for the 2015 Pan-Am and Parapan-Am Games, but it has proved so popular that the city has maintained the temporary structure far beyond its originally planned lifespan.
“It became such an icon, such a destination, that only the CN Tower and the Eaton Centre surpass it in terms of visits from tourists” said Brad Ross, Toronto’s chief communications officer.
Ross announced on Thursday that the city will begin fielding proposals from builders for a permanent sign next week. He said the the new sign could be installed by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
“This is an invaluable asset for the city in terms of its reach globally,” Ross added.
“This sign is pretty iconic … We trekked all the way over here to see the sign,” said Kimberly Thomas, a tourist from Atlanta who was posing for a selfie in front of the attraction.
“It’s something that tourists can go to, knowing that each city has their own trademark sign,” added Love Dizon, a visitor from Vancouver.
While the sign has been a major tourist attraction and served as the backdrop in countless social media posts, its upkeep has proven challenging and expensive for the city.
Ross said the new version will have to be more durable, and more resistant to graffiti and bad weather. It may also be more flexible in terms of wraps and lighting, he said.
While the sign will be new, the permanent version will maintain the same overall design, size and typography as the current sign.
The cost of the new sign has not yet been determined, but Ross said it will be paid for by reserve funds within the existing city budget for 2019.
“It is in fact, we believe, an investment for the City of Toronto.”