The STEPS Initiative is working on an exciting public art project planned for August 2017, as part of the Pan Am Path's Relay 2017. Transformations Connected will result in a series of new mural works featured on bents located along the Pan Am Path (under the Gardiner Expressway near the intersection of Lakeshore East and Cherry Street). A legacy of the 2015 PanAm / Parapan Am Games, the PanAm Path is a continuous recreational trail that connects communities across the GTA, including both the Martin Goodman and Lower Don Recreational Trails. In line with Relay 2017’s vision of diversity, inclusion, and youth leadership, STEPS has engaged a diverse array of Toronto artists to transform this otherwise overlooked piece of aging infrastructure into a celebrated cultural landmark. Lead artists Fathima Mohiuddin, Meera Sethi, and emerging artists Stephanie Bellefleur, and Daniela Rocha each straddle various geographic, social, and ethnic worlds within their individual artistic practices, making them them ideal fits for an installation of this nature. Transformations Connected responds to the industrial history, city-building narratives, and environmental practices in the area, along with the many evolutions is has experienced over the years. Originally, a marshland, the Port Lands were used for industrial activities, and later a dump site for old ammunitions and construction waste. This dumping resulted in the creation of the Leslie Street Spit, which has been reclaimed over the years by seeds, plant matter, and local fauna—specifically birds—as the result of natural ecological regeneration.
Efforts to reconnect this often overlooked part of Toronto's urban fabric serve as a source of inspiration for the work. Transformations Connected will further animate the unique web of green spaces that are the Martin Goodman and Lower Don River Trails, and encourage Torontonians to embrace different uses for spaces in transition. The project aims to spark conversation about urban and ecological transformations and draw connections between historical and current city-building and environmental practices.