TORONTO -- On the north side of Finch Avenue West between Kipling and Islington Avenues lies a stretch of art murals that portray the lives of those in north Etobicoke. It is one of the few public art displays located in that corner of the city.

Now, it is being demolished to make way for construction as part of the Finch West light rail project.

On Monday, Metrolinx is set to bulldoze the noise walls that the murals are painted on to install new bike lanes, a multi-use pathway and widened sidewalks.

Arts Etobicoke, the non-for-profit organization that led the mural project, said they are disappointed that the murals will be removed.

“We were informed that the walls we had identified for this amazing community public art project were not set to be removed. In fact, we even planned on adding an additional 40 murals to this project,” the organization said in a statement to CP24 on Sunday.

In 2019, Arts Etobicoke partnered with the city and other organizations, including Women Paint, to launch the Augmented Representations: The North Etobicoke Mural Project.

Spanning 576 feet, it features 33 murals “inspired by Indigenous narratives, personal experience of local residents, and the landscape of the Humber River.” They were painted by community members and local artists, including Bareket Kezwer, Moises Frank, Rob Matejka, and Mique Michelle.

“We are extremely sorry to see these incredible pieces of art be removed from the North Etobicoke community. North Etobicoke has a distinct lack of public art and opportunities to participate in community placemaking,” Arts Etobicoke said.

“These murals were an important opportunity for residents to see themselves reflected in the community and to help redefine the narrative of North Etobicoke. “

The group hopes Metrolinx will support a new community initiative to replace the murals.

Metrolinx said there had been plans to remove the wall and revitalize the neighbourhood even before the murals were painted.

“Before this work can begin, water, storm and sanitary pipes buried underground must be relocated. The streetlights and boulevards must also be removed to create space to widen the road. For all of this to happen, a noise wall on the north side of Finch Ave. W. must be removed,” the transit agency said.

Metrolinx said there was a discussion to move the murals to another location, but it became clear that the work would damage the paint. The agency decided to arrange for high-resolution photos to be taken of the murals as a way to preserve them digitally.

“With a permanent record of this art, the transit agency is looking for a community partner that can publicly display the images,” Metrolinx said.

The Finch West LRT is expected to be completed in 2023.