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A township in the Canadian province is changing the name of one of its streets, Swastika Trail, following years of controversy.

Puslinch Township council on Wednesday voted 4-1 to rename Swastika Trail. Puslinch Township is located about an hour’s drive southwest of Toronto.

Swastika Trail was given its name in the 1920s before the swastika, previously an ancient symbol of peace and good fortune in some cultures, came to be associated with the Nazis.

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) Director of Policy Jaime Kirzner-Roberts presented a deputation to the council, in which she stated, “The fact that Puslinch has a street named after the Nazi symbol has remained a source of deep hurt for countless residents for too long.”

Soon after the council approved a new street naming policy in July, FSWC appealed to Puslinch councillors, urging them to create a committee of township staff to determine whether the street name Swastika Trail violated local bylaws and offer recommendations to council about how the issue should be addressed. The committee was created and ultimately concluded the street name is inappropriate and should be changed.

The vote at Wednesday’s council meeting was to accept the recommendation of the committee to change the name of Swastika Trail.

Residents of Swastika Trail initially recruited Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada to help get their street renamed back in 2017.

Many Puslinch locals told B’nai Brith Canada at the time they are embarrassed by the trail’s name, especially when forced to use it on drivers’ licenses and other government documents. B’nai Brith then opened an online petition calling on township officials to change the street’s name.

In December of that year, however, the town council in Puslinch voted to keep the name Swastika Trail.

The issue again came to light in July of 2021, when a petition urging the Canadian government to condemn the street name received a groundswell of support, picking up over 2,000 signatures.

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC’s Director of Policy, welcomed Wednesday’s vote approving the name change.

“Nearly five years after voting against renaming Swastika Trail, Puslinch council has made the right decision to change the street name that has for decades left a stain on the township. We commend the local residents who never gave up on their fight to change the street name and are thankful township staff had come to the realization that the street name is inappropriate and a name change is long overdue. The swastika is the ultimate symbol of horror and mass murder, a symbol adopted by the Nazis who murdered six million Jews and millions of others during the Holocaust. Not only does the swastika serve as an odious symbol of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against civilians, it also represents the enemy regime that took the lives of tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers. Today, the symbol is used by extremists who promote hatred, violence and conspiracy theories and even commit mass atrocities. The swastika is banned outright in many western countries and has no place in any community in Canada.”

FSWC in a statement recognized the longstanding work by the Daisy Group as part of its commitment to changing the name of Swastika Trail. The group also thanked community member Randy Guzar, who has lived on Swastika Trail, for his outstanding leadership in building a successful grassroots campaign over several decades.