City of Toronto starts looking into Dundas Street renaming following petition

A Dundas Street West sign is pictured in Toronto, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giordano Ciampini

The City of Toronto says officials are looking at four options in response to a petition last month calling for Dundas Street to be renamed.

In June, a petition circulated online calling for the renaming of the iconic street that runs through Toronto. Dundas Street was named after Henry Dundas, an 18th-century politician who delayed Britain’s abolition of slavery by 15 years.

As of Wednesday morning, the petition has collected more than 14,000 signatures.

In response to the petition, Mayor John Tory asked city manager Chris Murray to form a group that includes the city’s confronting anti-Black racism unit and Indigenous Affairs Office to recommend next steps.

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City officials said that based on data they have gathered, there are 7,329 properties along Dundas Street as well as 102,466 residents and 48,975 dwellings that are located along and immediately adjacent to the street. There are also 2,095 business establishments with 25,426 employees along Dundas Street and 25-plus Toronto businesses in the area with “Dundas” in their name.

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On Sept. 23, the city manager is expected to bring forward a report that will fully assess four options for responding to the petition calling for the renaming of Dundas Street:

  • Do nothing
  • Retain the legal street names with additional interpretation and recognitions
  • Retain the legal street names but rename those civic assets with Dundas in their name, except TTC
  • Rename the streets and other civic assets now carrying the Dundas name
Click to play video: 'Push to remove racist references from statues, streets, schools'
Push to remove racist references from statues, streets, schools

According to city officials, the report will also include:

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  • An estimate of the costs that would be incurred by businesses, organizations, property owners and residents with a street address on Dundas as well as any service or directory that maps or shows addresses (e.g., the PATH system).
  • For the renaming option, an outline of a community engagement strategy and change management process that simultaneously addresses in an integrated manner all civic assets with the Dundas name (streets, parks, TTC, Toronto Public Library and Yonge-Dundas Square) by the end of 2021.
  • Beyond Dundas Street, a proposed framework to more broadly understand and respond to how systematic racism and discrimination are embedded in city assets, commemorative programs and naming policies. This might ultimately touch all named city streets, parks and facilities, public monuments and civic awards and honours, potentially leading to a variety of actions (e.g., renaming streets, removing monuments, revoking awards or reinterpreting any of these).

“Any decision to rename a major arterial road like Dundas requires careful consideration of its potential impacts and an equitable and inclusive public process that responds to the community at large, including Black and Indigenous communities, and addresses neighbourhood considerations as appropriate,” city officials said in a statement.

“The process should be co-ordinated across the city government to review the full range of Dundas-named assets and ensure consistent, coherent community consultation and communications.”

— With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Jessica Patton

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