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Swastika Trail officially renamed Holly Trail

Council votes 4-1 to change the street name
20220926swastikadc
Swastika Trail.

PUSLINCH — After years of contention, Swastika Trail will be renamed Holly Trail.

Council heard several delegates speak out against the name change at Wednesday's meeting, most of them against changing the street name Swastika Trail to Holly Trail.

Then the council voted 4-1 in favour of the name change, with councillor Matthew Bulmer not supporting the change.

One delegate spoke out about how the swastika symbol is very important in Hindu culture, especially as the Hindu festival of Diwali approaches.

The swastika is a “symbol of peace, prosperity and good luck, which is used even today by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains around the world, including the Canadian Hindus in the Kitchener-Cambridge area. As you will probably notice in the coming days,” said Jay Mehta of the Coalition of Hindus of North America.

Concern was raised that the name change is a problem for people of certain religions and cultures.

“I’m hoping that the next council can fix that, in this policy, that we make sure that it has an inclusion in diversity, component to that, so that we don’t stomp on another religion’s sacred symbols,” said Bulmer.

On top of that, the name change has been all-round inconvenient and unwanted by certain residents including, Lori Leroux.

“The street name change is being forced upon us and is costing more money than we are being offered. The $1,000 hardly covers it,” said Leroux.

Bulmer tried to support the needs of residents negatively affect by the name change, specifically in therms of the monetary costs related to the change.

"I think you raise an interesting point that that perhaps we should look into regarding the additional costs that could be faced through this. The policy is a changeable policy over time. And if the residents do experience costs greater than anticipated in the policy, I think it would be helpful if they'd be willing to make members of council or staff aware of those so the policy can be amended in the future," said Bulmer.

Resident Paul Wyszynski, who is against the change, spoke about how the issue has affected the culture of those on the street.

“It used to be a real nice neighbourhood. People got along, things were fun around here. Now it’s totally divided,” said Wyszynski.

Randy Guzar, a local resident who has been pushing for the name change for years, said in a phone interview after the meeting it felt good to know the change is official and believed this will push the township towards being more inclusive. 

“I think we’re moving Puslinch into a more modern world and we’re helping to engage our community in a bigger world and that’s equally important,” Guzar said. 

“I think it’s just quite clear that it’s an unacceptable word in a modern Canada, an inclusive Canada and multicultural Canada.”

Guzar acknowledged there’s a group of people who’d prefer to keep the name but noted the group is small and he is focused on building bridges between people for a more welcoming community.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.