Toronto’s City Manager’s office released a report on Monday recommending that Dundas Street be renamed because of its namesake’s connection to slavery.
The report follows a petition launched in June 2020 that was signed by more than 14,000 people and called for the street’s name to be changed amid anti-racism protests in Toronto and around the world.
The petition asked Toronto City Council to begin a renaming process due to the “highly problematic” legacy of Scottish politician Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville, who actively obstructed efforts to abolish slavery in the British Empire.
The City Manager’s report will go before the Executive Committee on July 6, and if approved, the report then needs to be reviewed and approved by City Council before renaming can happen.
The recommendation to rename Dundas Street and other civic assets with the same name follows “discovery sessions, extensive academic research and a review of over 400 global case studies,” the City said in a press release.
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Toronto Mayor John Tory said he supports the recommendations to begin the process of renaming Dundas Street.
“An objective reading of the history, the significance of this street which crosses our city, the fact Mr. Dundas had virtually no connection to Toronto and most importantly, our strong commitment to equity, inclusion and reconciliation make this a unique and symbolically important change,” Tory said on Monday.
“This is a moment in time when it is important to make 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.”
Similarly, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said in April that it would establish a “special group” to help determine a new naming and renaming process for its schools to ensure that they better reflect the diversity of the city.
And at Toronto’s Ryerson University, a committee is in the process of reviewing the legacy of its namesake, Egerton Ryerson, the man who is considered one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system. Two campus publications have already removed Ryerson from their name, while many staff and students have taken to replacing the institution’s name with “X University” in their email signatures.