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London, Ont. moves closer to renaming Paul Haggis Park

There was no debate on Tuesday as city councillors in London, Ont., endorsed a move to rename Paul Haggis Park and remove all references to the park’s current name from the city’s website.

It comes after a U.S. jury ordered the London-born screenwriter and film director to pay at least US$7.5 million in compensatory damages to a woman who accused him of rape.

Days later, Haggis, 69, was ordered to pay an additional US$2.5 million in punitive damages, for a total of US$10 million, or about C$13.3 million.

The park at 2875 Bateman Trail, which was named after Haggis in 2011, was first brought to the attention of city councillors in 2018, a year after the allegations that led to the U.S. jury’s decision emerged.

Then-Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih tabled a motion calling for the director’s name to be scrubbed from the park, which was then rejected by full city council by a vote of 10-2, with Salih and then-Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer providing the two votes in favour of removing Haggis’ name.

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Jury decision in 2017 rape lawsuit reignites push to rename London’s Paul Haggis Park

Ward 12 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza, who represents the area where the south London park is located, put forward a new motion to scrub Haggis’ name from the park during Tuesday’s meeting of the Community and Protective Services committee.

“The former city council made a commitment to creating a safe London for women and girls, and this, in my opinion, definitely does not feel to be connected with that. It goes against that policy,” Peloza said.

Along with removing his name from park, as well as all related references from the city’s website, Peloza’s motion will also direct staff to begin the process of renaming the park, which includes consulting with neighbours on a new name.

Peloza told her colleagues she’s been assured by city staff that removing Haggis’ name for the park would not cause any issues with first responders called to the area, relaying a message from staff that “the street address itself is sufficient.”

The committee voted 5-0 in favour of the motion, with Mayor Josh Morgan, the committee’s sixth member, absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

The renaming process won’t begin until full city council grants final approval during its Dec. 13 meeting.

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— with files from Global News’ Amy Simon and Matthew Trevithick.

Click to play video: '‘One of many wrongs to be righted’: Calgary moves closer to renaming James Short Park'

‘One of many wrongs to be righted’: Calgary moves closer to renaming James Short Park

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