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Saskatoon councillors clash over final vote to rename John A. MacDonald Road


Saskatoon city council finalized the street name change from John A. Macdonald Road to miyo-wâhkôhtowin Road Wednesday.

After numerous unanimous votes on the change since the topic arose in June 2021, some councillors voiced opposition to the name change Wednesday.

"I am just not comfortable," Coun. Bev Dubois said. "We have no process to do this, and that's really what I'm concerned about is that we don't have a process, and I think we've missed some things in this."

The vote passed with an 8-3 vote, and the councillors who voted against the name change had more contention with the lack of framework around changing names, since the city is creating this process as it goes along.

Those councillors — Randy Donauer, Darren Hill and Bev Dubois — are waiting for the next stage of the legacy review, which will consider renaming other streets, parks or civic facilities in the future and updating the civic naming policy accordingly.

They say they would have rather voted on the name change once that review was complete.

"I also have concerns, myself personally, about this being the start of a slippery slope ... and it's not my intention that we start going around in Saskatoon changing street names, park names, pulling statues down that sort of thing," Donauer said.

Hill wondered if the street name change will set any sort of precedent for other parks, streets or areas of Saskatoon named after prominent people with complicated legacies.

"We now have opened the floodgates to many more names to be brought forward. Other political and community leaders have supported eugenics, and research and experiments on sexually diverse people and on people with intellectual disabilities. Are we going to change all those names," Hill said.

"We need a policy in place first. We did not put that policy in place. That was our fault."

Councillors in favour of the name change noted this was a pilot for future reviews of street names. Coun. Mairin Loewen isn't concerned about tarnishing the name of John A. Macdonald.

"There's zero risk of John A Macdonald being forgotten by history because of this name change," she said. "That's not the point of street names and park names."

City staff will now begin working with residents, both individually and in group settings, to walk them through the process of changing addresses or any other concerns they may have.

Signage will change in the coming weeks. A smudge walk and other community events are being planned with wâhkôhtowin School, which is located on miyo-wâhkôhtowin Road. Top Stories

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