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Taxi industry can manage Dundas Street name change: “Call it Freedom Street” – Co-op Cabs CEO

Toronto’s Executive Committee voted on July 6th to begin the process of re-naming Dundas Street, and Toronto’s Taxi industry will manage the change, says Abdul Mohamoud of Co-op Cabs.

“I have no problem with the name change, and it should be done,” says Mohamoud, CEO of Co-op Cabs in Toronto.

“We could rename it ‘Freedom Street.’”

Everything “Dundas” is named after Scottish politician Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, who was the British Home Secretary at the turn of the 18th century with responsibility for the colonies. Dundas opposed ending the British Empire’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade. The name “Dundas” has been used by municipalities across Ontario, including the former town of Dundas and County of Dundas.

Mohamoud says that the Taxi industry will have no problem adjusting to the change: “It’s not like in years past, when people used printed books like Perly’s for directions; today, everything is digital and our Global Positioning System not only gives us directions, but tells us if there are any traffic delays, right up to the minute.

“We can do this, and we should. I don’t think anyone who committed these things should have their names cherished. Changing the name is an important symbolic thing, to make up for the past.”

However, Mohamoud points out, “Dundas Street runs all the way through Mississauga to Oakville – what is the plan for when streets hit municipal borders? That will need to be worked out.”

Still, he says, “street names change all the time. We can do this. The gesture is important.”

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The Executive Committee recommendations approved July 6th are as follows:

1. City Council direct the City Manager to initiate a public engagement process to seek input on the draft City of Toronto Principles for Commemoration in the Public Realm, included as Attachment 1 to the report (June 18, 2021) from the City Manager and to report back to the Executive Committee with recommendations for a new framework and implementation plan to guide how the City commemorates public figures and events in street and place names, monuments and other civic assets by the second quarter of 2022.

2. City Council direct the City Manager to convene a Community Advisory Committee made up of Black and Indigenous leaders and representatives from the diverse communities represented along Dundas Street to develop and seek community input on potential new names for Dundas Street and other City-owned assets bearing the Dundas name, and report back to the Executive Committee with recommended names by the second quarter of 2022.

3. Subject to the adoption of Recommendation 2 above, City Council direct the City Manager to develop a transition plan to support Dundas Street residents and businesses impacted by the name change, and include this plan as part of the report to the Executive Committee in the second quarter of 2022.

4. Subject to the adoption of Recommendation 2 above, City Council direct impacted City divisions and agencies to include costs related to renaming Dundas Street as part of their 2022 and 2023 Budget submissions.

5. City Council direct the City Manager to explore options to reduce the cost of renaming streets and civic assets and include the results in the upcoming new framework and implementation plan.