Toronto Moves Forward with Sankofa Square Renaming Despite Opposition

Toronto’s executive committee, led by Mayor Olivia Chow, on Tuesday voted unanimously to proceed with the controversial plan to rename Yonge-Dundas Square to Sankofa Square. 

The decision comes amid heated debate between supporters and critics of the proposal, which aims to address the legacy of Henry Dundas, the square’s namesake, who is believed to have played a role in delaying the abolition of slavery in the 18th century.

Councillor Chris Moise, one of the few Black members of Toronto’s city council, hailed the decision as a “good news story” and a fitting way to honor the contributions of African-Canadian residents. The term “Sankofa” is derived from a Ghanaian concept that emphasizes learning from the past.

The board managing the square estimates the total cost of the renaming project to be close to $1 million, depending on the extent of related costs like celebration activities. Approximately $335,000, funded through Section 37 charges levied on developments, has been set aside for signage and a marketing campaign.

The rest of the funds will come from third-party partners and in-kind support rather than property taxes. Mayor Chow stressed that the cost would not burden taxpayers, contrary to claims made by some opponents.

“There are people who continue to say that it’s going to cost millions. Excuse me, that is blatantly not true,” Chow said. The plan, originally, was to rename the entirety of Dundas Street. That plan, which was estimated to cost millions, a whopping $13 million to be more precise, has been put aside for now.

During the committee meeting, the majority of the 20 public speakers supported the renaming, arguing that it would address the harms caused by the transatlantic slave trade. However, some objected to the costs and accused the city of inadequate public consultation.

Daniel Tate, co-author of a petition against the renaming, argued that the move would “pave over our history” and that the funds could be better spent on infrastructure and maintenance.

Councillor Stephen Holyday expressed concern that the council’s decision might be drifting away from the will of the people, citing a recent poll showing a majority of Torontonians opposing the rebranding. In response, Councillor Gord Perks criticized Holyday’s position, saying that it is the responsibility of elected officials to acknowledge and address anti-Black racism in society.

The renaming proposal will be considered by the city council at its meeting next week. The square’s board plans to make significant progress on the project by Emancipation Day on August 1, with new signage expected by the end of the year.

Information for this story was found via The Toronto Star, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

One thought on “Toronto Moves Forward with Sankofa Square Renaming Despite Opposition

  • June 22, 2024 2:39 PM at 2:39 pm

    The antisemitic Mayor has no concept of what the citizen’s of Toronto are seeking in a leader. She is easily the worst Mayor ever elected in this City. The Dundas Square fiasco is merely a ploy to cater to the Anti-Israel citizens of Toronto who support her and has nothing to do with seeking a fitting name for this important Square.


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