The process of potentially changing a controversial road name in London, Ont., has been ongoing for a year.
Ward 12 city councillor and chair of the Civic Works Committee, Elizabeth Peloza, says Londoners can expect more details about the Plantation Road name change in October.
“This fall, city council will be getting a report back from staff after they review all the street names within the city, identifying ones that would be of potential concern,” Peloza told 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs on London Live.
If approved, the City may put forward “a list of names that are prominent and meaningful to the Black (and) Indigenous communities” for new street name ideas, according to the councillor.
“Then, we have to look at (things) historically. What is of concern? What would the budget take to correct it? If the community is affected, (how) would they like it addressed?”
The process of changing the name of Plantation Road began last summer when then-10-year-old Lyla Wheeler started an online petition.
“The name of my street means a place where Black slaves were forced to work, in horrible conditions and were often whipped and punished, and sometimes killed,” the petition read. “With everything happening in our world right now, slave language needs to be abolished. Please sign the petition and help end racist language.”
The petition garnered 4,325 signatures in total.
Peloza says she recognizes the renaming process has taken quite some time, but explained it’s for the better.
“I wanted to have a full, comprehensive, transparent policy that people had a chance to weigh in on, and the different communities affected had the chance to be consulted,” she explained.
“We’re just making sure we’re more mindful going forward so these conversations are different or not happening because we’re doing it right.”
Peloza says such discussions have led to ideas for other street names that should be changed.
“The community is talking about Dundas Street, King Street, Queen Street, Iroquois Avenue.”
“It’s going to be a difficult (and) uncomfortable conversation, but it’s making space for diverse opinions,” she says.
In terms of choosing a new street name, Peloza says city administration will ensure no two streets have the same name or something too similar, which may confuse first responders.
According to the city, a list is kept of pre-approved street names from developers.
When a proposed development comes forward with new streets, the city suggests the list of street names, which are generally chosen by the developer.
If developers have requests for a specific name, they can file a request which will circulate through an internal committee.
If there are no conflicts, the street name gets the green light.
-With files from 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs