City of Toronto staff report recommends a public consultation and next steps on renaming Dundas Street and other public assets

A City of Toronto staff report going before Executive Committee on September 23 provides recommendations, which includes a public consultation, on the City’s response to the petition to rename Dundas Street and address other civic assets with the Dundas name.

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. The petition objects to the street’s namesake, Scottish politician Henry Dundas, who was involved in delaying the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, causing more than half a million more Black people to be enslaved in the British Empire.

The report recommends the City host public consultations on the renaming of Dundas Street and on future street namings and renamings, monumental removals and additions, reinterpretations and revocations and report back to 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 report also assesses the four options for responding to the petition, and evaluates costs to City divisions and agencies, other impacts and outlines a community engagement strategy and change management process for applicable options.

If recommendations are approved, the four options for renaming Dundas that will be evaluated in a public consultation include:

  1. Do nothing (not recommended by the City).
  2. Retain the legal street names with additional interpretation and recognitions.
  3. Retain the legal street names but rename those civic assets with Dundas in their name, except TTC facilities.
  4. Rename the streets and all other civic assets now carrying the Dundas name.

The 2021 follow-up report to Executive Committee will focus on the consultation findings and recommendations relating to a preferred option for responding to the petition.

If a decision is made to revise the City’s overall framework for commemorative policies and programs, the report recommends that no new applications to name or rename streets or other civic properties or requests to remove City monuments received on or after October 1, 2020 be considered until the review of policies and programs has been completed.

Recommendations were developed by a City working group, which was formed following a request by Mayor John Tory to City Manager Chris Murray. The working group includes representatives from City divisions, the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Indigenous Affairs Office and provides overall guidance for how to address and respond to this call to action.

More information is available online: https://www.toronto.ca/dundasreview.