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Street art slows motorists in St. John's neighbourhood

Rabbittown Community Centre’s Lillian Lush and Stephanie Poirier say they’ve noticed drivers slow down because of the street art.
Rabbittown Community Centre’s Lillian Lush and Stephanie Poirier say they’ve noticed drivers slow down because of the street art. - Juanita Mercer

‘It’s working,’ residents say

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

On a small St. John’s street, a simple art project has a big impact.

People who live or work on Graves Street said they’ve noticed a problem with motorists speeding around the bend – right where a busy community centre sits.

On Wednesday, dozens of day camp children lined up outside the Rabbittown Community Centre preparing to leave for a field trip.

As drivers came around the corner, they were met with a brightly painted tree spanning the entire corner of the road.

Dave Hillier has lived across from the community centre most of his life.

Stephanie Poirier created the artwork adorning Graves Street. - SaltWire File Photo
Stephanie Poirier created the artwork adorning Graves Street. - SaltWire File Photo

When the neighbourhood came together on July 6 to paint the street art – a unique traffic-calming measure – he was hopeful it would make people slow down. At the time, he shook his head as he recalled close calls he’s witnessed over the years. 

The Telegram stopped by the street this week to see if people think the project is working.

Hillier said he has “definitely” noticed an improvement.

“I’ve been noticing when (motorists) come there,” he pointed at the tree, “they’re not sure if there’s something there or what, so they slow down.”

A nearby neighbour agreed – he said he’s also noticed a difference in speeds, and he thinks the bright artwork is a nice addition to the neighbourhood.

Lillian Lush is the executive director at the community centre.

From her office, she can look out over the street art, and she’s taken note of motorists’ changing behaviours.

“When they initially get to the top of it, they slow down. They’re driving looking out trying to figure out what they’re driving over, which is great. 

“It’s doing the job it was intended to do, and that makes us very happy.”

Stephanie Poirier created the design, and she also runs summer programs at the community centre, so she’s at the centre every day. 

She said she noticed a difference in speeds right away. 

“You could see it – it was awesome.”

Lush said the project also brought the community together, prompting residents to chat with and meet one another.

While the tree was painted by about a dozen volunteers, roughly 100 people added their handprints or footprints to give the appearance of leaves.

“It’s doing the job it was intended to do, and that makes us very happy.” — Lillian Lush

“To see everyone have a part and actually put their imprint on something, literally, in the neighbourhood, it just makes them have a lot of pride and it brings people together more than I ever thought it would. 

“So, it has a dual purpose, I guess,” she smiled.

Lush said everybody she has talked to loves the street art, and many said they’d like to see more of it around the city.

She added the project was also a low-cost initiative with a big impact. Paint supplies were donated by Dulux Paints in Mount Pearl, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp.’s beautification project also helped with the cost of paint. 

The work was done by volunteers.

“It’s just an overall feel-good project,” she said.

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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