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City to review legacy of Dundas Street after petition calls for renaming

Dundas Street sign in Toronto.

The City of Toronto says they will be reviewing the legacy of Dundas Street after a petition calling for the street to be renamed circulated back in June, but it will take extensive community input.

A Toronto man started the petition calling for Dundas Street to be renamed to honour a more appropriate person, place or event.

The petition called the legacy of Henry Dundas, an 18th-century Scottish politician who the street is named after, “highly problematic.”

Dundas actively participated in obstructing the abolition of slavery in the British Empire from 1791 to the end of his political career in 1806.

It has since been signed by over 14,000 people.

In a briefing note released by the city, they said any decision to rename a major arterial road like Dundas will have to require careful consideration of its potential impacts and an inclusive public process that responds to the community at large, including Black and Indigenous communities.

The City Manager will be bringing forward a report to the Executive Committee on Sept. 23, that will include four fully assessed options to responding to the Dundas petition:

  • retain the legal street names with additional interpretation and recognition (for example, plaques along the street);
  • retain the legal street names, but rename civic assets with Dundas in their name including Yonge-Dundas Square, expect TTC;
  • rename the streets and other civic assets carrying the Dundas name or;
  • do nothing.

City staff are not recommending option four, “do nothing.”

It will also estimate the costs incurred by any businesses, property owners and residents with a street address on Dundas.

If the renaming option is chosen, the report will also outline a community engagement strategy and change management process that “simultaneously addressing an integrated manner all civic assets with the Dundas name by the end of 2021,” including streets, parks, libraries and Yonge-Dundas Square.

City staff have already determined there are 7,329 properties along Dundas, 102,466 residents and 48,975 dwellings along and immediately adjacent to Dundas, 2,095 businesses along Dundas and over 25 businesses along the street with “Dundas” in their name.

“Considering the renaming of Dundas Street is just the beginning of the work we need to do to build a Toronto where we all belong,” said Mayor John Tory in a release. “I appreciate the thoughtful and thorough research and analysis that has gone into this briefing note by City staff and look forward to the working group’s future recommendations.”

“This is a huge and important undertaking – one that we are determined to do carefully and properly to set a standard that we can follow going forward,” added City Manager Chris Murray.

The full briefing note that contains the history of Dundas Street can be read below:

City of Toronto briefing note on renaming Dundas Street by CityNewsToronto on Scribd