http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/307981

Op-Ed: Renaming Toronto — Corporate names for everything?

Posted Jun 15, 2011 by Paul Wallis
Torontonians are howling about the suggestion by the Ford brothers at City Hall regarding raising revenue by corporate buying of place names. The reaction has already been ferocious, and it's not showing any sign of getting softer.
Shooting Deaths of Three Men in Toronto
Toronto.
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The idea is simple enough according to the Toronto Star:
At a time when city staff is asking council to adopt a concrete policy regarding corporate partnerships, sponsorships and naming rights, the always outspoken brother of Mayor Rob Ford took a few minutes to promote the idea to reporters.
“As long as it’s called the right name,” he said, before tossing out the Spadina-McDonalds idea. Getting it through council “won’t be a problem,” he added, if it means getting the TTC the TLC it needs.
This new bit of information comes on top of an existing policy situation for parks and public places. The chairperson of the Toronto parks environment committee isn’t ruling out similar name changes to these places, either.
Mayor Ford has already got one thing wrong. The whole idea isn’t sitting too well with the natives, and there’s been a general roar of protest. The possibilities are open-ended, and the series of jokes about Wal-Mart parks and similar names is getting out of hand.
There are a few issues here:
1. Doing corporations a huge favor for the price of practically rewriting the Toronto street directory and GPS refs.
2. The historical issues- Even the Americans wouldn’t rename the Lincoln Memorial the “McDonalds Lincoln Memorial”. The “Monsanto Dieppe War Memorial” wouldn’t go down too well.
3. Disabled access- This is a problem for people trying to find their way around.
4. What happens when this revenue source dries up, as gimmicks like this usually do?
5. Do the corporations have to pay the same sort of rates as they would for commercial billboards?
6. What about heritage-listed places? Renaming could easily be in breach of these listings.
7. Then there’s the dignity issue- Would “the Kleenex and Yonge intersection” look good or bad, would you say? How about Lake Starbucks-Ontario? Renaming the subway stations could wind up as “Get off at Playstation”.
8. Are these names to be there for all eternity, or until a better offer comes along?
9. Who pays for the administration costs? The ratepayers or the corporations?
I’ve got to know Toronto through years on DJ and my local friends. It’s more than debatable whether these corporate names could possibly look anything other than ridiculous.
The blatantly obvious issue is that this is one of the typical political stopgap measures to deal with the inevitable revenue blowouts politicians can’t seem to avoid making.
Torontonians loathe the idea. They didn’t like the renaming of the Skydome to the Rogers Center, let alone a wholesale renaming of their city. I’d say, as a wild guess, that they don’t want to be called BP/Rogers Toronto.