A City of Toronto staff report is recommending a public consultation on how the city should respond to a petition to rename Dundas Street and other civic assets with that name.
In a release, the city said “the petition was created following global discussions on racial injustices, inequality and anti-Black racism, which led the public to scrutinize the origins and history of monuments, street names, parks and buildings across Toronto.”
A Toronto man started the petition in July, 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, which caused more than half a million more Black people to be enslaved.
The recommendations were made by a city working group that was formed on the basis of a request by Mayor John Tory to city manager Chris Murray.
The group includes representatives from city divisions, the city’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Indigenous Affairs Office.
Along with renaming Dundas street, the report also recommends public consultations on future street namings and renamings, monument removals and additions as well as reinterpretations and revocations. A report on that is to be brought to the executive committee in the first quarter of 2021.
“The consultations should aim to solicit participation from the public, residents and business owners with properties on or near Dundas Street, as well as Indigenous and Black community organizations,” the release said.
Further, the report assessed the four options for responding to the petition initially announced in July and evaluated the cost to the city and other impacts:
- Do nothing (not recommended by the City)
- Retain the legal street names with additional interpretation and recognitions
- Retain the legal street names but rename those civic assets with Dundas in their name, except TTC facilities
- Rename the streets and all other civic assets now carrying the Dundas name
These are also the four options that will be evaluated in a public consultation if the recommendations of the report are approved by the executive committee on Sept. 23.
The follow-up report in 2021 will focus on the results of the public consultation and the preferred option.