BoCC Approves Naming of Joan Canton Way

SWAG visionary Joan Canton receives a standing ovation at a County Commission meeting designating a road in her honor.

In May 2021, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) unanimously approved the naming of Joan Canton Way. As a result, the portion of SW 61 Street and SW 8 Avenue between SW 20 Avenue and Tower Road will display the name of SWAG visionary Joan Canton. You can view the event by watching this video starting at 1:21:14.

SWAG Board members, family, and friends attended to celebrate Joan and to speak in support of the resolution. “She wanted to build bridges to prosperity,” said SWAG Board Member Miriam Gonzales. “And so with that said, I’m hoping that honoring her will be an example for the whole entire community around us.”

SWAG Board Member Miriam Gonzales speaking at the Board of County Commissioners’ vote to name Joan Canton Way

We are thrilled that Joan’s name will be featured in the community she loved. As Joan’s daughter Dana told the room, “She loved SWAG. She loved doing for her community.”

“When you go into the SWAG area and you see the Resource Center, or you see the clinic across the street, or you see the playground that Wild Spaces and Public Places built, or you see the CHILD Center, or even the beautiful sidewalk,” said SWAG Board Chair Dorothy Benson, “that’s Joan’s vision.”

Joan Canton's daughter, Dana, speaking at the Board of County Commissioners' vote to designate a road in honor of her mother
SWAG Board Chair Dorothy Benson speaking at the Board of County Commissioners’ vote to name Joan Canton Way

The public comment portion of the meeting featured an outpouring of love for this special woman. “She and her sister were the most amazing volunteers that I ever met in my life,” said SWAG Board Member McLinda Gilchrist. “Our mom was a truly wonderful person,” added Joan’s daughter Joi, who joined via telephone. “She loved her family and her life. While she is truly missed, the memories she left will live forever in our hearts.”

SWAG leader speaking at the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners Meeting on May 25, 2021

Many of us in the room also shed tears while watching this video by some of our UF partners. “I’m sure we’ve made you guys want to cry before,” joked SWAG Board Member Dorothy Thomas. “But we’ve never actually made you cry before. But today might be the first.”

Visibly moved by the proceedings, County Commission Board Chair Ken Cornell said, “Joan taught me how to be a commissioner. You bring the services to the people where they are. That’s what she taught me. So, I love Joan. Miss Joan. And I’m really happy we’re doing this.”

SWAG Board Member Dorothy Thomas makes a joke at a Board of County Commissioners meeting