Dundas name to be removed from Toronto streets, other public amenities
Posted July 14, 2021 6:18 pm.
Last Updated July 15, 2021 1:17 pm.
Dundas Street as well as other public amenities bearing the name will be renamed after Toronto city council voted 17-7 to move forward with public consultation on a new name.
The street is named after Scottish minister Henry Dundas, who never stepped foot in Toronto and is infamous for playing a key role in delaying the abolition of the British empire’s transatlantic slave trade.
The decision comes following a petition launched by a Toronto man in June of 2020, following global discussions of anti-Black racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Andrew Louchhead said at the time that Dundas’ legacy is “highly problematic” and hoped the petition would not only lead to changing the name of one of the city’s main arteries, but also start a conversation about who the city honours with street names and monuments. The petition has over 14,000 signatures to date.
In response, the city decided to review the issue in July, 2020. Last week, the mayor’s executive committee approved the renaming of the street based on a city staff report recommending a name change of the street and other civic assets.
The report estimates the cost of re-branding all civic assets bearing the “Dundas” name at close to $6 million dollars.
Louchhead called the move a good first, “foundational step” towards addressing systemic racism, but said a lot more work that needs to be done.
“We can’t allow for this to be the way that our city says ‘oh we’ve addressed systemic racism’. It doesn’t stop with Dundas street,” he said.
He added that it is also important to reflect on why this change took so long.
“[We have to reflect on] why addressing colonial monuments, public celebrations of white supremacy and genocide has taken us decades to address,” he said.
Louchhead also spoke to concerns brought up in online comments about the effect of the renaming the street on businesses, saying “no one is asking businesses to change their name.”
Following public input, a new name will be chosen in April 2022. The move includes city landmarks like Yonge-Dundas Square and Dundas subway station.