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Further public consultation needed to determine next steps in response to Dundas Street petition, city staff say

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TORONTO – City staff are recommending that some action be taken in response to a petition calling for the renaming of Dundas Street but they say further public consultation will be needed to determine the next steps.

Nearly 15,000 people have signed a petition calling for the main street to be renamed in light of Henry Dundass’s vocal opposition to the abolition of slavery in the 18th century British Empire.

Since the July staff had considered four different options on how to respond to the petition, including doing nothing but in a report that will go to the executive committee next week they say simply ignoring it would not address the impact of name in Black communities and do not achieve the most balanced approach guaranteed to a city whose motto is Diversity Our Strength.

As such, staff are recommending that the city undertake a more exhaustive public consultation process that will include a closer look at the remaining three options.

These options include renaming Dundas Street, as well as other city streets and city assets bearing the Dundas name, while retaining the name but adding other ceremonial and signage street names that will address Henry Dundas’s legacy or name retention. while renaming other assets of the city with Dundas in its name, such as Yonge-Dundas Square.

In the report, staff say that if Dundas Street were to be renamed doing so would incur an estimated cost of $ 3 million due to the need to replace 730 road signs and rename other city assets, including three parks, a public square and a Toronto branch Public Library

They also say the decision could have a significant impact on the 58 businesses bearing the street name.

If those Toronto businesses with the word Dundas in their business name chose to change their business name, significant costs would be incurred including designing the new logo (approximately $ 20,000 to register intellectual property), signage and marketing costs. , as well as fees for registering a new business name, the report warns.

Staff will report back in early 2021

In preparing their report, staff spoke with more than a dozen academics about Henry Dundas’s legacy and concluded that while he was no more than a moderate anti-slavery reformer his move to delay the abolition of slavery while serving as Minister of the Scottish Cabinet contributed to the perpetuation of the crime against humanity of enslaving human beings and resulted in more than half a million more black people being enslaved in the British Empire.

They are recommending that as part of the public consultation process the city should review all of its assets bearing the Dundas name and ensure that the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of our Black communities are at the forefront and at the center.

They are also calling for a moratorium on consideration of other proposals to rename roads or other civic assets until the review is completed.

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