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Toronto officials come up with priorities for renaming streets
July 6, 2022

Toronto councillors should prioritize commemorations significant to Indigenous Peoples, Black communities and equity-deserving groups when renaming streets such as Dundas, according to proposed guidelines from city officials.

If adopted by city council, this process would also be driven by historical research, traditional knowledge and community insights, a report to next week’s executive committee says.

“Names and symbols in public spaces matter,” the report says. “They help to cultivate a sense of belonging, well-being, and connectedness for all, especially in support of Indigenous Peoples, Black communities, and equity-deserving groups. They also speak to what the city and community feel is important and worthy of celebration, documentation and commemoration.”

City officials are also recommending that a freeze on naming streets be lifted if the guidelines are acceptable to council.

Council decided last year to rename Dundas St. after a public petition and city report stated namesake Scottish politician Henry Dundas was involved in delaying the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Some experts say Dundas supported abolition but delayed the vote as a strategic move.

Mayor John Tory said at the time that the renaming -- despite the $6.3 million cost and problems associated with changing of thousands of addresses -- was worth the effort because it sent a “statement to the entire community about including those who have been marginalized and recognizing the significant effect past history can have on present day lives.”

A community advisory committee made up of 20 Black and Indigenous community leaders and other diverse residents living and working along Dundas St. were assigned the job of developing a shortlist of possible names.

City officials will report on recommendations for new names for Dundas St. in early 2023, the report says.

That timeline means the name change for Dundas St. will not come until after this fall’s municipal election.