A street in southern Ontario will retain the name “Swastika Trail” after Puslinch Township council voted 4-1 against changing the privately owned street name during a meeting on Wednesday evening.
The matter arose last month when B’nai Brith Canada launched an online petition calling on the township about 75 kilometres west of Toronto to change the street name.
Nearly two months ago, members of the neighbourhood association held their own vote in which a slight majority of residents said they wanted to keep the name.
At Wednesday’s meeting, council members said they did not want to overstep the democratic actions already taken by residents.
Local residents in favour of keeping the name say Swastika Trail was named in the 1920s before the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, but others have argued the name is associated with hate and genocide.
Before the vote, Jewish groups urged councillors to vote in favour of changing the name, arguing the symbol is still used by neo-Nazi groups and continues to appear in antisemitic vandalism right across this country.
“It’s already a national shame that residents of your community are beholden to a name representing a symbol that was utilized in the murder of nearly 10 million people in concentration camps and more than 40,000 Canadian soldiers who went to fight the Nazis — not to mention over 100,000 Canadian soldiers who were injured during the war,” Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, wrote in an open letter.
The Canadian Press