Kitchener council to mull name change for Indian Road after community concern

Students at Grand River Collegiate will be part of a delegation Monday at Kitchener council where the finance and corporate services committee will hear a presentation on the renaming of Indian Road.

Council received an open letter from students at Grand River Collegiate who called name insensitive

In May of 2021 students in a Grade 10 history class at Grand River Collegiate Institute sent a letter to the City of Kitchener calling for the road their school is on to be renamed. They said in the letter the current name is insensitive and offensive to Indigenous peoples. (Google Street View)

Calls to rename a Kitchener street will go before city council on Monday.

In May 2020 students in a Grade 10 Canadian history class at Grand River Collegiate wrote an open letter to the city asking it to change the name of Indian Road, which the school is located on. The students called the current name offensive and insensitive to Indigenous people.

Councillors will hear a presentation at the finance and corporate services meeting. It calls on council to accept a four stage review which would see the road renamed by 2023.

Barry Cronkite, the city's director of transportation services, says 36 residential homes, an apartment building and the high school itself would be affected by the change.

"It really is about engagement and making sure that those that are directly affected by the name of Indian Road will be an essential component of the review," Cronkite said.

"So making sure that we connect with the residents, the students and staff of Grand River Collegiate and the Indigenous communities."

Cost and criteria

Cronkite says the current street naming policy in the city "requires that it has a local historical context and it's something that can stand the test of time."

The cost to change the name will land in the range of between $65,000 and $90,000.

That cost covers the price of new street signs and also the costs residents will have to pay for changes to their identification and addresses.

That's far less than the cost of renaming Dundas Street in Toronto which is estimated to affect 97,00 residents and 4,500 businesses. 

The City of Kitchener has outlined the various stages in the process to rename Indian Road in Kitchener. Staff will recommend that council accept the process at Monday's meeting. (City of Kitchener)

School involvement

Monday afternoon's meeting will include student delegations from Grand River Collegiate and history teacher Stephen Gingrich, whose Grade 10 class started the process after a class discussion.

"This has already been positive on so many levels. Students taking an interest in history at school, young people being active citizens engaging in the political process, the municipal government responding to students' concerns about equity and inclusion," Gingrich said.

"Really, most of all, these conversations raise awareness in our community about the need for meaningful reconciliation in small increments like this and hopefully in the larger steps that need to be taken."