"It's a heritage bridge. It's very beautiful," McCamus says. "People asked, `Why change it, why alter it so dramatically for such a small minority? You're going to make it ugly and take away the view.' ... The way we got around that was to say, `You're right. The bridge is a piece of public art.'"
The city of Toronto sponsored a competition to design a barrier that wouldn't be an eyesore. The winner was an architecture professor from the University of Waterloo, Dereck Revington, who intends his luminous veil not only to be a life-saving measure, but also to be one of North America's largest pieces of public art. At the least, he impressed his colleagues, winning a 1999 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence for the design.
The city of Toronto originally agreed to pay $2.5 million for the barrier, with the group led by Birney and McCamus raising the rest. They struck a deal with an advertising company, which agreed to pay $3.5 million in exchange for the right to place two electronic billboards on the bridge. Environmentalists and historic preservationists objected and the deal fell through.