City Council approved revisions to the Property Naming Policy in July 2022 as part of the City’s Commemorative Framework, under item EX34.6. The Property Naming Policy establishes the criteria and process to name or rename a City Property.
Under the City’s Property Naming Policy, many City properties receive wayfinding names that describe the property’s features or location. These names make it easy for residents to identify and locate public amenities and facilities in their neighbourhoods and around the city. For example, Beaches Park has a wayfinding name due to it being located in the Beaches neighbourhood and near the beach.
The City also considers commemorative naming proposals for City properties that, if adopted, would enhance equity and inclusion in placemaking and promote a broader understanding of history and its legacy on communities. For example, Dr. Daniel Hill Park recognizes Dr. Hill’s lifelong advocacy for human rights and the preservation of Ontario’s Black History.
Proposals must meet the criteria set out in the Property Naming Policy and align with the six (6) Guiding Principles for Commemoration found in the City’s Commemorative Framework which are:
Guiding Principle 1: Be informed by historical research, traditional knowledge, and community insights
Guiding Principle 2: Be supported by communities through meaningful engagement
Guiding Principle 3: Honour Indigenous ways of knowing and being (Note: This principle is specific to commemorations of significance to Indigenous Peoples)
Guiding Principle 4: Prioritize commemorations significant to Indigenous Peoples, Black communities, and equity-deserving groups
Guiding Principle 5: Connect to Toronto, Ontario or Canada’s histories and cultures
Guiding Principle 6: Share knowledge and stories behind commemorations
Residents can also request the City to review an existing commemorative name of a City property where the name may be considered problematic.
Propose a Commemorative Property Name
To propose a commemorative name, complete the Commemorative Property Naming Form and submit the form and required documents to email@example.com or mail to Strategic Partnerships, City Hall, 100 Queen St. W, 10th Floor, East Tower, Toronto ON, M5H 2N2.
Commemoration is an intentional act of acknowledging the memory of people, places, events and ideas. It can include positive and honorific celebrations of the past and present, as well as acknowledgements of tragic, controversial and shameful dimensions of history and culture. Public commemorations – such as the naming of streets, parks and other civic properties and representation in monuments and plaques – are one way communities demonstrate what they believe is important to remember.
Interested residents are encouraged to:
- Carefully review the form, the City of Toronto Property Naming Policy, and the City of Toronto Guiding Principles for Commemoration;
- Consider the range of commemorative and honorific options that are available through the City of Toronto, including commemorative street naming, City of Toronto Awards and Tributes;
- Reach out to community members, organizations, and groups, and your local Councillor to develop a proposed commemorative name and confirm that there is broad support for the proposal;
- Keep track of positive and negative feedback you receive from others; and
- Note important information about the proposed name that you receive from knowledgeable people and/or find in print and digital sources.
If you are proposing to name a property after an individual, event, or organization, you need to show the City that you have consent by completing and submitting the Commemorative Property Naming Consent Form.
Contact Strategic Partnership staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions about how to submit a proposal to commemoratively name a City property.
Property Naming Policy Overview
All commemorative property name proposals must align with the City’s Property Naming Policy.
- Commemorative property names must meet the City of Toronto’s Guiding Principles for Commemoration.
- You may only propose to rename City properties that have wayfinding names (non-commemorative names). To request for the City to review an existing commemorative property name that may be considered problematic, please visit the Commemorative Framework webpage.
- For new properties, you must submit your proposal to the City before the end of the design process and before the start of the construction and documentation preparation.
- Proposals regarding commemorative names in an Indigenous language or a subject significant to Indigenous communities must demonstrate consultation with Indigenous communities and respect for appropriate Indigenous practices or protocols.
- The City will not rename ravines, woodlands, or other ecological features unless renamed to a name in an Indigenous language or one that honours an Indigenous subject and is developed in consultation with Indigenous communities and Indigenous rights-holders.
- The City will assign only wayfinding names to property features, which are amenities or assets within or on a City property – including but not limited to playgrounds, sports fields, gazebos, trails, multipurpose rooms, gymnasiums, and ice pads.
- The City will not consider commemorative naming proposals that would:
- Provide a competitive advantage, benefit or preferential treatment or advertisement to the named person(s), organization, a development, product, service, or a business.
- Be discriminatory or derogatory of race, colour ethnic origin, gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, creed, political affiliation, disability or other social factors.
- Result in inappropriate abbreviations or acronyms.
- Duplicate the name of another City property.
- Place the City in conflict with any agreements established in the acquisition or management of the City property.
- Rename properties that have been named or renamed in the past ten (10) years, except under special circumstances.
- Refer to an event that took place or to someone who has died within the last two (2) years, except under special circumstances.
Proposal Review Process
All proposals to commemoratively name or rename a City property will go through a Technical Review and Guiding Principles Review, conducted by City staff.
Your proposal will be reviewed against the criteria in the Property Naming Policy and the Guiding Principles for Commemoration.
You will be informed after the Technical Review as well as the Guiding Principles Review about outcomes, next steps, and if any further information is required.
1. Technical Review
- Strategic Partnerships will notify you when the proposal is received.
- Strategic Partnerships will review your proposal for completeness.
- If the proposal is incomplete, Strategic Partnerships will provide recommended next steps.
- If the proposal is complete, Strategic Partnerships will forward it to Economic Development and Culture for the Guiding Principles Review. Strategic Partnerships will notify you of this step.
2. Guiding Principles Review
- Staff in Economic Development and Culture will assess your proposal against the City of Toronto Guiding Principles for Commemoration.
- If the proposal does not meet the Guiding Principles, staff from Strategic Partnerships will notify you:
- If further information is required for resubmission,
- The reasons your proposal was declined, and/or
- Alternative Award and Tribute opportunities for commemorating a person, organization or event.
- If the proposal meets all criteria, staff will prepare a Staff Report to the relevant Community Council or City Council (if applicable) to get Council approval for the proposed Commemorative Name.
- Staff from Strategic Partnerships will advise you of the expected meeting date for the Staff Report to be reviewed by Community Council or City Council.
Request a Review of an Existing Commemorative Property Name
Existing street names, City property names, and monuments on City property may warrant reinterpretation, recontextualization, or removal if they:
- Refer to current or historic persons known for their discriminatory views and actions, including committing or perpetuating acts of racism or violence against Indigenous Peoples and Black communities, and/or equity-deserving groups;
- Include derogatory terms that might represent or be linked with discriminatory views and actions;
- Negatively represent or appropriate the culture of Indigenous Peoples, Black communities, and/or equity-deserving groups;
- Are inconsistent with City By-laws or policies including the City of Toronto Human Rights and Anti-Harassment / Discrimination Policy
- Bring the City of Toronto into disrepute (e.g., negatively impacts the reputation of the City of Toronto)
Please visit the Commemorative Framework webpage for more information.
Resources for Researching
TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Toronto Public Library (TPL) is the largest public library system in Canada. TPL provides free access cards for the residents of Toronto.
Local History and Genealogy
The TPL has a great Local History and Genealogy page with links to online tools, research guides, books and local history collection. For in-person help, visit a library branch with a local history collection. If you need in-person help, Book a Librarian for a 30 or 60 minutes appointment.
Resources are available through the TPL’s A-Z List of Databases and provide:
Online access to:
- Digital Archive – over 175,933 items including photographs, maps, digitized books and much more.
- Toronto Star Historical Newspaper Archives – searchable articles and full-page reproduction from 1894 to 2019.
- Globe and Mail Historical Newspaper Archive – searchable articles and full-page reproductions from 1844 to 2018.
- JSTOR – an archive of articles from scholarly journals and primary sources for arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities.
- Canadiana Online – a digitized collection of books, government publications, periodicals, annuals and newspapers about Canada published from the time of European contact to the early 20th century.
In-library access to:
- Ancestry Library Edition – a genealogy resource especially for U.S. and Canadian records including census, birth, marriage, death, immigration, military records and more.
Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre
Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre is located at the Toronto Reference Library. It provides access to the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana. A large collection of historical manuscripts, books, ephemera, newspapers, maps and documentary art. Includes over a million Toronto Star photos.
The finding aid for manuscripts is available at Manuscript Finding Aid online resource.
CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES
At the City of Toronto Archives you can find historical records (information), including:
- records created by the City of Toronto government
- records created by municipal governments that existed before the 1998 amalgamation
- papers of people, families, organizations and businesses
- maps, plans and architectural drawings
Visit the Using the Archives page for help accessing the archives’ database for records and information.
For more in-depth research, you may try the following resources.
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites and more.
THE CANADIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA
The Canadian Encyclopedia is a collection of articles, lists, timelines and more about topics in Canadian history.
DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN BIOGRAPHY
Dictionary of Canadian Biography is a collection of over 8400 biographies covering the period from the year 1000 to 2000.