This is why one person says Toronto streets shouldn't be named after people
Honouring a man who delayed abolishing slavery and has virtually no connection to Toronto should never happen again, one former mayoral candidate suggests.
Henry Dundas was an 18th-century Scottish politician who had a hand in delaying the abolition of slavery in the British Empire for years.
I'v been on Dundas Street a million times and I never knew. Now that we know who Dundas really was, we cannot un-know it. It would be a stain on the city to over look this. Truth and reconciliation requires us to undo the celebration of this man.— Jennifer Keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) June 29, 2021
His only connection to Toronto appears to be that he was friends with John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, who named the town of Dundas after him, and streets leading to Dundas were named after the town.
Not long after the recommendation to rename Dundas Street came down, so too did the suggestions for a new name.
Double meaning of honouring Desmond Cole and his work in BLM Toronto.— emmy, purveyor of spines (@emmy_of_spines) June 10, 2020
But this week, former mayoral candidate and chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat suggested the city shouldn't name the street after another person.
"Naming streets, places and institutions after people is a terrible tradition that should end," Keesmaat wrote on Twitter. "It is a vanity of primarily powerful men."
This tradition - of naming something as a description (rather than after a person) has First Nations roots. Take the name Toronto, for example. The word, Anglicized from Mohawk, was spelled tkaronto and taronto and used to describe an area where trees grow in shallow water.— Jennifer Keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) June 29, 2021
Instead, the city should name streets after natural features or stories. This would be "more meaningful and memorable, too," she suggests.
At least a few people agree.
"No person's name - history is fickle," one person wrote.
It also creates overlong names... the Boulder Dam bypass bridge is officially named the "Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge". Except no-one uses that name because it's too long, defeating the point of naming it after those two people.— globaltom (@GlobalTom) June 29, 2021
Dundas Street is home to 97,673 residents and more than 4,970 properties. The total cost of the renaming is estimated as ranging from $5.1 million to $6.3 million over two years, 2022 through 2023.
The decision to rename will go to the executive committee on July 6, and then, if approved a Community Advisory Committee made up of Black and Indigenous residents and business owners will be created.
The Advisory Committee will develop a shortlist of potential names with community input and bring it to city council in 2022.
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