ABOVE: Global’s Jackson Proskow explains who’s in favour of renaming Union Station – and who wants to see it stay the way it is
TORONTO – Toronto city councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong wants to rename Union Station after the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald.
“Sir John A. Macdonald was known for confederation. He was a nation builder. But he was also known for building a railway from coast to coast,” he said.
Minnan-Wong presented a motion on the matter during the city’s executive committee meeting Tuesday.
“In terms of having a significant monument named after him, I think Union Station is entirely appropriate.”
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Union Station is currently the busiest transportation hub in Canada, serving close to 200,000 passengers a day.
The Don Valley East councillor told reporters inside city hall the municipality owns the building and is confident the name change can be done.
“The preliminary analysis is that the city has the jurisdiction to do this,” said Minnan-Wong.
Union Station has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada since 1975 and a Heritage Railway Station since 1989.
At least one city councillor thinks the idea is a little far-fetched.
“I think connecting it to the rail system is understandable but Union Station is Union Station, and it’s part of the fabric and history of this city and it’s not something you just break out a chisel and re-carve the name,” said downtown councillor Adam Vaughan.
Watch the video below: Karen Stintz and Norm Kelly share their opinion on renaming Union Station.
And the Toronto Railway Museum tweeted its opposition Tuesday morning.
Minnan-Wong says the name change coincides perfectly with the upcoming Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial in 2015.
“We do not give enough recognition to some of our prime minister’s and Sir John A. Macdonald is the George Washington of Canada,” he said.
However, a Ryerson professor suggests honouring Canada’s first prime minister can be done but instead of Union Station, Avenue Road should be renamed.
Patrice Dutil, a professor at Ryerson University, wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star outlining why Avenue Road – a name he says serves no “historical or cultural purpose” – should be renamed Sir John A. Macdonald Avenue
“Just as it’s common for an American town to have a George Washington way, no community in Canada should be without an important ‘Sir John A. Macdonald’ avenue, road or street,” Dutil wrote.
Minnan-Wong’s motion means that a study on the proposal would be brought forward to the executive committee by July 2.
A number of public consultation sessions would also be planned for later this year.