City staff will explore the feasibility of introducing a customized web domain for use by Toronto businesses and organizations following a vote by the government management committee on Monday.

Councillor Paul Ainslie’s motion calls on the Chief Information Officer to report back on the potential benefits and costs of introducing .TO web addresses by Feb. 22.

Ainslie’s motion also raises the possibility of introducing neighbourhood specific web addresses for community groups, so, as an example, accredited organizations could sign up for Parkdale.TO or Littleitaly.TO.

In making the case for the new domains, Ainslie cites the success of a .NYC web address that was introduced in New York City in October, 2014.

“New York City initiated their own .nyc web address earlier this year and reported that 10,000 requests had been filed by October 2015, making the domain names available on a first come first serve basis. The simple process has New Yorkers register their own personalized emails at The site is exciting, vibrant and inviting everything Toronto is,” Ainslie writes in a letter accompanying his motion.

.TO owned by Tonga

Though Ainslie’s motion specifically calls for the introduction of a .TO web address, that domain is actually owned by the Kingdom of Tonga, meaning that revenues from the sale of .TO domains would go to a country where homosexuality is illegal and women are forbidden from owning land.

One workaround to that problem would be the introduction of a .Toronto web domain, which the city would own.

In a letter to the Government Management Committee, Richard Schreier of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority said that may in fact be the most logical approach.

“The advantages for the city to have full control over ‘.TORONTO’ vs. limited to no control over ‘.TO’ cannot be overstated,” Schreier wrote.

In order to purchase a custom domain such as .Toronto the city would have to participate in one of the periodic auctions held by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The last time ICANN held such an auction in 2012, interested parties had to pay an application fee of $185,000 and if awarded the domain, an annual operation fee of $25,000.

The application fee was non-refundable.

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