Even after saying that the city is broke, newly-elected Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow is supporting the $8.6-million initiative to rename Dundas Street.
Mayor Chow’s office confirmed her support for the 2021 council decision to rename one of the city’s oldest and most prominent thoroughfares, which currently bears the name of an 18th-century Scottish politician, Henry Dundas. This move is part of a broader effort to address historical injustices tied to the legacy of slavery and promote inclusivity.
The decision to rename the street has sparked debate, with proponents arguing that honoring someone linked to the delay of abolishing the slave trade is inappropriate and that the renaming is a meaningful step towards rectifying historical wrongs endured by Black communities.
Critics, however, contend that there is insufficient evidence directly attributing Dundas to the prolongation of the slave trade. They also highlight the financial implications. A 2021 city report outlines the extensive efforts required, including changing hundreds of street signs, wayfinding markers, and even renaming parks and subway stations. The most recent estimate places the cost at $8.6 million.
Mayor Chow’s spokesperson, Shirven Rizvany, emphasized that the mayor is committed to the renaming process and will collaborate with the community throughout its implementation. While the specifics of Chow’s reasons remain undisclosed, it is noted that her predecessor, John Tory, also endorsed the renaming plan.
Coun. Shelley Carroll, who initially supported the renaming, has recently voiced concerns about the city’s financial constraints due to a significant COVID-related operating shortfall of over $1.5 billion projected for the next two years. This shortfall has raised questions about the city’s ability to fund the renaming project.
Despite financial challenges, proponents of the renaming argue that the costs are relatively small compared to the city’s annual budget of $16 billion. Lanrick Bennett, an advocate for the renaming, contends that hesitations about the expense underscore a lack of value placed on the experiences of Black and Indigenous individuals in Toronto.
The committee overseeing the renaming, which boasts strong representation from Toronto’s Black and Indigenous communities, is diligently moving forward with the project. While there are concerns about funding, the committee plans to release a shortlist of alternative names for Dundas in the coming fall, and a new name or names, along with updated cost estimates, will be presented to the council early in 2024.
Information for this story was found via The Globe and Mail, 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.