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Toronto looking into the legacy of Dundas Street, other public assets

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Might ultimately affect all named City streets, parks, facilities, monuments, and civic awards

TORONTO, ON., July 22, 2020 — Today, the City of Toronto announced it is committed to addressing the legacy of Dundas Street and establishing a process to more broadly understand and respond to how systematic racism and discrimination are embedded in City assets, commemorative programs and naming policies.

In response to a petition in June calling for Dundas Street to be renamed, Mayor John Tory asked City Manager Chris Murray to form a working group, including the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Indigenous Affairs Office, and to make immediate recommendations on next steps.

The petition, which has been signed by more than 14,000 people, objects to the street’s namesake, Scottish politician Henry Dundas, who is believed to be instrumental in delaying the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, causing more than half a million more Black people to be enslaved in the British Empire.

Today, the City of Toronto released a briefing note that concludes any decision to rename a major arterial road like Dundas requires careful consideration of its potential impacts and an equitable and inclusive public process that responds to the community at large, including Black and Indigenous communities, and addresses neighbourhood considerations as appropriate. The process should be coordinated across the City government to review the full range of Dundas-named assets and ensure consistent, coherent community consultation and communications.

Statues around the city were splattered with pink paint during a protest by Black Lives Matter Toronto. The group is calling on the city and province to defund the police, remove “monuments that represent slavery, colonialism and violence as well as invest in communities and create emergency safety services

The City Manager has committed to bringing forward a report to the Executive Committee meeting on September 23, 2020, and if passed City Council, that will:

  • Fully assess four options for responding to the Dundas Street petition (do nothing; 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; and rename the streets and other civic assets now carrying the Dundas name)
  • Estimate the costs that would be incurred by businesses, organizations, property owners, and residents with a street address on Dundas as well as any service or directory that maps or shows addresses (e.g., the PATH system)
  • For the renaming option, outline a community engagement strategy and change management process that simultaneously addresses in an integrated manner all civic assets with the Dundas name (streets, parks, TTC, Toronto Public Library, and Yonge-Dundas Square) by the end of 2021
  • Beyond Dundas Street, propose a framework to more broadly understand and respond to how systematic racism and discrimination are embedded in City assets, commemorative programs, and naming policies. This might ultimately touch all named City streets, parks and facilities, public monuments, and civic awards and honours, potentially leading to a variety of actions (e.g., renaming streets, removing monuments, revoking awards, or reinterpreting any of these)

This work is being done using existing City staff and resources.

Staff have begun assembling population and business data from a number of sources, including the 2016 Canadian Census and the 2019 Toronto Employment Survey. Key findings so far include:

  • 7,329 properties along Dundas
  • 102,466 residents and 48,975 dwellings along and immediately adjacent to Dundas
  • 2,095 business establishments with 25,426 employees along Dundas
  • 25+ Toronto businesses along Dundas Street with “Dundas” in their name

The petition, which has been signed by more than 14,000 people, objects to the street’s namesake, Scottish politician Henry Dundas, who is believed to be instrumental in delaying the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, causing more than half a million more Black people to be enslaved in the British Empire.

The Dundas renaming petition is one of many global efforts currently underway to confront anti-Black racism and discrimination against other communities. Staff are working to understand how other jurisdictions are responding to proposals to rename streets and facilities and to remove monuments.

More information, including the City’s briefing note, is available online: toronto.ca/dundasreview

SOURCE City of Toronto

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