Toronto city council recently voted to remove the “Dundas” name from its busy downtown street and subway station, which raises the question, will eastern Ontario municipalities be following suit? Not Belleville or Napanee — at least not yet.
Dundas Streets across the province are named after Henry Dundas, an 18th-century politician from Scotland who was responsible for delaying the freedom of more than 6,000 enslaved people by 15 years.
Although the City of Toronto took steps to distance itself from the controversial figure, right now, Belleville, which itself has a Dundas Street, has no plans for name changes.
“At this time we haven’t had any requests for name changes, either related to structures or statues or roads, for that matter,” said Rod Bovay, Belleville’s chief administrative officer.
Bovay said any renaming decision will ultimately be up to council.
“It’s a sensitive topic and there’s obviously divided opinions in the general community on what the best way to deal with some of that history is, so I’m sure council will hear both sides of the argument if it ever gets before them,” he said
In Greater Napanee, which also has a Dundas Street, Mayor Marg Isbester says there are currently no changes on the horizon.
“We have a Dundas Street and we have some references to Sir John A. Macdonald in front of our town hall, because of course, this was a place that he worked from,” she said.
“But there will be public consultation and a lot of discussion before anything is done.”
Although no formal consultation has been done so far, Isbester feels there will be a 50/50 split if a name change motion comes to council.
If passed, she noted it will take some time, while also coming with added expenses for residents and businesses.
“First you’re going to have to decide what all of these things are going to be called, but then you’re putting people through the work of having to change your address physically, having to change so much, at a cost,” she said.
For now, the streets will remain the same, unless members of the public start to demand change.
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