Toronto City Council voted to change its name to Dundas Street
The Toronto City Council voted to rename Dundas Street to promote the integration of marginalized communities.
After a long debate on Wednesday, the city council passed a motion by the municipal staff to change the name of the street by 17 votes to 7. This street is a major east-west road that runs through the city.
This move follows Petition to cancel the name in 2020 Because of Henry Dundas’s connection with the transatlantic slave trade. It appears in global discussions and protests about racial injustice, inequality, and anti-black racism.
“Our reputation is at stake”
county. Michael Thompson, the only black man in the parliament, said before the vote that renaming the streets was the right thing to do.
“History will not remember the cost of changing our name — it will remember whether we actually took the right action. Our reputation is at stake,” he said.
City managers are expected to report to the City Council Executive Committee on the new name proposal in the spring of 2022.
Dundas, an influential Scottish politician, opposed the end of the British Empire’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade when the proposal was made at the end of the 18th century.
His opposition prevented its abolition, which put hundreds of thousands of people, many of them black, in a state of slavery, and allowed more people to be enslaved.
The city will also remove the name of Dundas from other public infrastructure, including TTC’s Dundas and Dundas West subway stations and Yonge Street Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. Other municipal assets named after Dundas include three parks, a branch of the Toronto Public Library and more than 730 street signs.
The city will hold a public consultation to choose a new name for the street and plan to find space in the budget to support people and businesses affected by this change.
Watch | Why Dundas Street was renamed:
“Doing the right thing will never go wrong”
Mayor John Torre said that Dundas has never been to Toronto, and the city should not celebrate him and his legacy.
“Do the right thing, you can never go wrong,” Tori said.
“What we want to say is that we will not continue to recognize and respect those who have taken the actions he took at the time that are inconsistent with the values ??we are trying to establish and celebrate today. That’s what we want to say.”
According to the city government, a community advisory committee will lead the name change process. The committee will be composed of black and aboriginal leaders, representatives from the different communities that live and work on Dundas Street, and representatives from the Business Improvement District and residents associations.
The committee will develop a potential new name and “transition plan” to help residents and businesses throughout the process.
The City of Toronto said in a press release: “The adoption of this report further promotes the City of Toronto’s commitment to combating anti-black racism, advancing truth, reconciliation and justice, and building a more inclusive and fair Toronto.”
“The city is committed to taking steps to correct mistakes, challenge systemic and institutionalized racism, and build a more inclusive Toronto for all, which is consistent with the city’s motto,’Diversity Our Power’.”
Call for more consultation
Parliamentarians Stephen Holyday, James Pasternak and Denzil Minnan-Wong expressed concern about what they believe to be a lack of public consultation on the name change.
Cheryl Blackman, the acting general manager of the city’s economic development, said that city staff consulted with representatives of about 25 black and Aboriginal communities in Toronto in a series of “discovery meetings.” She said she also consulted representatives of the business improvement area and residents living on Dundas Street.
Blackman said: “In the next steps, we plan to conduct in-depth and thorough consultations with Torontons on how we will determine the new name.”
Holliday suggested that the process of city government staff did not follow the requirements of the city government Street name change policy, Which states: “The request to rename the street requires the written support of 75% of the owners adjacent to the street.”
Energy consumption of US$6.3 million
According to a report submitted by the City Manager to the City Council Executive Committee on June 18, Dundas Street has more than 97,000 residents and 4,500 businesses. It is estimated that the total cost of the renaming will be between US$5.1 million and US$6.3 million within two years.
“This cost estimate reflects a lot of changes and complexity involved in changing the name of Dundas Street to a major arterial road, its direct connection to provincial highways, and the impact on the transportation system and other municipal assets,” the report said.
City officials reviewed the academic research on Henry Dundas prepared by historians to understand his legacy. Before formulating recommendations, the staff also consulted more than 20 academic experts on public history, black Canadian studies, and public memorials.
The city staff working group that developed the recommendations included representatives from the city’s anti-black racism group and the Office of Indigenous Affairs.
According to the city government, the city council’s decision requires the passage of a charter before the name change can begin.
The City Council also approved the development of a “memorial framework”, which will include principles for how the city will mark public figures and events in monuments, streets, and place names, as well as the process of reviewing existing city assets. This fall, the city will solicit public opinions on the framework.