Renaming Dundas Street to erase link to racist
LONDON, ONT. -- Is it time for London to strike the name ‘Dundas’ from maps and street signs?
According to the book ‘London Street Names', it was John Graves Simcoe who named the east-west artery through the heart of London. “Simcoe always intended to name it Dundas Street after Henry Dundas.”
As a 18th century politician, Dundas fought against the abolition of slavery. His efforts delayed the end of slavery in the British Empire by 15-years.
“Names mean something. Names are very important,” says Leroy Hibbert of LUSO Community Services.
In light of concerns about systemic anti-Black racism raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, Hibbert feels a conversation is needed at city hall about the names of Dundas Street and the recently completed Dundas Place.
“Think and pause. See what we can do to make some adjustments, because the values we have in this generation are different than the values we had previously,” he tells CTV News.
An online petition has already garnered thousands of signatures to rename Dundas Street in Toronto.
Mayor John Tory says his city hall should consult with historians and, “Look at all these names and statues, in a thoughtful way.”
A statue of Dundas in his hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland was defaced during a Black Lives Matter rally. Politicians have agreed to install a new plaque to reflects his role extending slavery.
Changing Dundas Street’s name would subsequently change the address of residences and businesses along its route through central and east London.
The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s Jennifer Grainger points to numerous other street names in London whose namesakes wouldn’t live up to modern values.
“If we are going to rename some of our streets, it makes sense to look at each individual and try to judge each person by the standards of his or her own time,” says Grainger.
“You don’t necessarily need to change everything and every street,” says Hibbert. “But when we come into knowledge of things that aren’t necessarily productive, I think we have an obligation to make some adjustments in that area.”
The process to change a street’s name begins with an application at city hall, including a $512 fee.
After staff review the request, council can hold a public meeting prior to making a final decision.
Unless council decided otherwise, the proponents of the name change would be required to cover all signage costs plus $200 in compensation paid to each property owner whose address is changing.