Most Torontonians disapprove of new name chosen for Yonge-Dundas Square: poll

Toronto residents are against renaming Yonge-Dundas Square to Sankofa Square. Richard Southern with the results of a poll that also measures the popularity of Mayor Olivia Chow and other political leaders.

More than two-thirds of Toronto residents are not on board with the proposed new name for Yonge-Dundas Square, according to a new poll.

A recent survey from Liaison Strategies suggests widespread disapproval from every part of the city towards changing the name to ‘Sankofa Square’, with 71 per cent of total respondents not in favour of the move.

Last month, City Council voted 19-2 in favour of the new name for Yonge-Dundas Square. Council also voted 17-4 in favour of the recommendation to rename Dundas Station and Dundas West Station.

City Council initially voted to rename Dundas Street, the 23-kilometre east-west route, as well as other city-owned assets bearing the Dundas name due to their namesake’s alleged role in delaying the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

After consultation with academic experts, the city found Henry Dundas’ actions contributed to the perpetuation of slavery. The British politician never actually set foot in Toronto.

Previous polling from Liaison in October found that 54 per cent of residents supported the Dundas name change, though that number dropped to 42 per cent when people were made aware of the estimated cost to do so.

The cost to rename the thoroughfare and all other landmarks bearing its name is estimated to be as high as $12.7 million, according to a report presented by the city manager.

“The question was always going to be though, what would Dundas street be renamed to?” says David Valentin, principal of Liaison Strategies. “There is slim support though for renaming Yonge-Dundas to Sankofa.”

“Instead, there is widespread disapproval from every demographic and every Toronto borough.”

The name change has the most support from downtown residents — but only at 17 per cent approval, with 69 per cent still disapproving.

Sankofa, the new name chosen for the downtown square, derives from Ghana and refers “to the act of reflecting on and reclaiming teachings from the past which enables us to move forward together” and, in simpler terms, “to go back and get it.”

The Liaison poll surveyed 831 residents with a margin of error of 3.39 per cent.

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