Toronto, formerly known as the home of the CN Tower and longest street in the world, has been renowned since 2015 as the city with a big eponymous sign.
We’re talking, of course, about the massive ‘TORONTO’ display at Nathan Phillips Square that was unveiled last year for the Pan Am Games. It has since become an Instagram hot spot for tourists and locals alike.
And now, it’s the subject of a pretty major lawsuit.
Bruce Barrow, a creative brand marketing consultant from Markham, is suing the city for $2.5 million, alleging that he had the original concept for the three-dimensional, block-lettered, LED-illuminated sign. Mayor John Tory and Councillors Josh Colle and Michael Thompson are also implicated in the charge.
Barrow says he shared his idea with the city in a confidential proposal in 2014. One year later, after hearing nothing back about the concept, he tuned in to see the sign’s unveiling on TV.
“My jaw dropped,” he said, calling it a “pit-in-your-stomach kind of feeling.
“Ideally I would have been engaged, I would have been recognized and there would have been some sort of compensation for the idea.”
Barrow’s lawsuit seeks $1.75 million in damages for “misappropriation of confidential information and breach of confidence,” as well as $750,000 in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages.
The City of Toronto has responded by saying the claim has no basis and that it will vigorously defend the charge. Its statement of defence alleges the sign is based on creative work by city staff all the way back in 2010 who were inspired by the ‘I amsterdam’ sign, signalling a loose understanding of the term ‘creative’.
For now, the case will be filed under ‘Why Toronto Can’t Have Nice Things’.