Most Torontonians oppose renaming Yonge-Dundas Square, says poll

Pollster Liaison Strategies asked 831 Torontonians if they support renaming Yonge-Dundas Square to Sankofa Square. More than seven in ten (72%) opposed the move as name change costs are pegged at $12.7 million minimum.

Most Torontonians oppose renaming Yonge-Dundas Square, says poll
Facebook/ Mykola Swarnyk
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Most Torontonians are fed up with local efforts to rename Yonge-Dundas Square, according to a new poll. 

Pollster Liaison Strategies asked 831 residents earlier this month if they approve of renaming the street to Sankofa Square. More than seven in 10 (72%) opposed the move with only 16% in favour, reported the National Post.

"Our previous polling in October found there was support for renaming Dundas Street — 54 per cent — though that dropped when respondents were informed of the cost, to 42 per cent," said David Valentin, principal of Liaison Strategies.

Named after the late 18th-century Scottish politician Henry Dundas, supporters of the name change argue his association to the trans-Atlantic slave trade muddies the water despite being considered an abolitionist. 

"The question was always going to be though — what would Dundas Street be renamed to? In the end, council opted to rename Yonge-Dundas Square and some subway stations," added Valentin.

A petition dating back to 2020 in support of the effort received less than 15,000 signatories, prompting city council to initiate consultations the following year.

In June 2021, city staff recommended a name change, pegging costs at between $5.1 million to $6.3 million. However, the city manager updated the estimate to nearly double that tally last year. The new estimate is upwards of $12.7 million after media reports quoted an unofficial estimate of $8.6 million.

But noticeably absent are the costs for renaming businesses, says former CBC reporter Jennifer Dundas. 

City officials have yet to disclose the cost to reimburse some 4,500 businesses for changing their addresses or business names — adding several millions of dollars to the bottom line.

Toronto’s city council approved a motion last December to change Yonge-Dundas Square to Sankofa Square at a cost of $700,000 to taxpayers for the consultations. However, the "Sankofa" moniker, has also raised eyebrows as a term coined by participants in the early modern trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

A counter-petition to keep the Dundas name "unless the city can afford a robust public vote about the necessity of a new name" has gathered more than 22,000 votes in under a month.

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