Member of Parliament and Layton’s wife Olivia Chow speaks at the unveiling of Jack Layton Way.

Layton Way the new road to safer communities

Former federal NDP leader and Toronto city councillor Jack Layton was officially honoured with a street renaming Sunday.

The late politician has been immortalized with the renaming of “Don Jail Roadway” to “Jack Layton Way” at the corner of Gerard Street East and Broadview Avenue.

A crowd of about 300 braved the unsettled weather, including Layton’s wife and Toronto MP Olivia Chow, as well as locals such as the Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, who spoke of the significance of the new street.

“When we see a person’s name on a street sign, it reminds us of not only a person’s life, but a person’s priorities.

“This street leads us to health care, ensuring health care is accessible to everyone and represents diversity in this area,” said Hawkes, referring to the provincial jail for which the street was formerly named.

He went on to say; “the new street [Jack Layton Way] takes us from where we’ve been to where we want to go, with safer communities.”

Chow echoed Hawkes, telling those on hand that it is important to celebrate community.

“It’s about coming together,” she said.

Kelly McParland, a columnist at the National Post believes too many streets are often named for too many non-deserving politicians and leaders, but said with Layton, it’s different.

“Jack Layton is probably a special case, given the affection he inspired in a lot of Canadians and the circumstances of his death,” McParland said.

According to the City of Toronto Survey & Utility Mapping index, honourific names normally are awarded to individuals who have been deceased for at least two years.

Layton, who never became Prime Minister, became Federal Leader of the Opposition following the May 2010 general election, where the NDP leader turned in an impassioned performance despite obvious physical illness.

He died in August, 2011.