Toronto council votes to conduct public consultations on renaming Dundas Street
A Dundas Street West sign is pictured in Toronto, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giordano Ciampini
TORONTO -- Toronto City Council voted Thursday to move ahead with public consultations looking into the prospect of renaming Dundas Street.
Council directed the city manager to start round one of the consultations and report back the findings, including the preferred option for responding to a renaming petition and a work plan with estimated costs, to the executive committee in the first quarter of 2021.
The petition, which has been signed by nearly 15,000 people and was created in the summer in the wake of protests against racial injustice, urges the city to rename Dundas Street.
One of the city’s major roadways, it is named after Henry Dundas, who delayed the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in the 18th century.
City staff recommended last month that the city respond to the petition by undertaking further public discussions.
In a report to the executive committee, the city manager outlined four possible courses of action, including doing nothing and leaving the street name as it is.
However, city staff said ignoring it would “fail to address the impact of the name on Black communities” and fall short of the “more balanced approach” that is warranted for a city whose motto is “Diversity Our Strength.”
The three other courses of action are keeping the street name, but adding markers such as plaques to address Dundas’ legacy, retaining the street names but renaming city properties with Dundas in their names, excluding TTC facilities, and changing all the streets and city assets carrying the name.
According to the report, the estimated cost for renaming streets and city properties, including replacing more than 730 street signs, is $3.02 million. There would also be a significant impact on 58 businesses that have the name.
“I really started this with the intention of starting a conversation and hopefully spurring some action towards understanding a little bit of our heritage that is so ubiquitous around us,” Andrew Lochhead, who created the petition, told CP24 in June.
“A lot of people have said to me that we didn’t understand or know the history of Dundas Street and so it doesn’t mean anything, it is just a street name. But to that, I say if it doesn’t mean anything, then why not change it to something that can be meaningful to us today.”
The cost of the first round of consultations is estimated at $250,000, the city said.