Ever wonder how a street of park gets named in Regina. It is a complex and can sometimes feel like a secretive process.
The Civic Naming Committee uses guidelines approved by City Council to adjudicate applications for street and park names submitted by members of the public, developers and members of City administration. Approved names go on the Master Lists for Street and Park Names. Only names on the Master Lists for Street and Park Names may be used to name streets and parks within the City of Regina. As Regina grows, developers select names from the mater list for street and parking naming. Names on the list remain until a Community Developer select the name for use.
The Civic Naming Committee consist of six City of Regina staff members chosen by the City Manager.
It seems simple, but were it gets complex is the amount of names a on the approved list has grown exponentially faster than the actual growth of our City (roads and parks) creating a significant back log of names.
The last review of the Civic Naming Committee Guidelines took place in 2009. However the City of Regina is conducting a Civic Naming Committee Guidelines Review with the intent to address several issues with street and park naming. The goal is to create a single, harmonized guideline that addresses street and park naming, cleans up a number of housekeeping issues relating to street and park naming and addresses the backlog of names on the current Master Lists of Street and Park Names. This initiative has come from City Council and is a direct response to the City of Regina Cultural Plan. Issues such as translating street signs into Indigenous languages, street renaming and creating a sense of community and belonging within the larger community will be addressed.
One can appreciation of the complexity to name new streets and parks. It is important to understand and support the need to work with regional partners to harmonize naming practices, aid in wayfinding and safeguard health and safety. Also the goal of ensuring the process is efficient and does not create costly delays in the planning process must be realized. If the process and policy is to be implemented effectively, decisions made by the Civic Naming Committee must be clear and transparent.
Several recommendations in the report that was tabled at the May 2nd Regina Planning Commission meeting, as part of the Civic Naming Policy review.
There are many positive aspects to the recommendations like:
- Prohibiting duplicate and soundalike names for safety reasons;
- Utilizing street and park naming as an opportunity for diversity and reconciliation;
- Establishing policy for renaming of a street or park; and
- Coordinating with regional partners.
There are also concerns:
- Compelling additional quotas of using backlog of names;
The policy document itself is vague and will be subject to interpretation, which is not helpful. Example, it may be interpreted that no new names may be added to the list until all the names on the current list are used. This may have the causal effect of loosing the ability to acknowledge new members of our community. At the same time forcing recognition of others who, by Administration’s proposed recommendations would no longer meet the criteria. At the current rate of City growth, it could be decades until many of the names are utilized;
- Individual names on residential streets that may be perceived to have negative attributes.
Example, referring to the 2013 Regina Planning Commission needed to address concerns raised about Dethridge Bay. Dethridge Bay was named after Stanely Dethridge, a 30 year City Engineer who retired in the 1940’s and moved to Ottawa. There maybe great significance to this name, but it is not evident. A simple Google search only brings up the 2013 controversy. The reason for naming a street after him is lost, as there does not appear to even be any family members of Stanely’s left in our community;
- Exclusion for “sponsored parks” to be somewhat ironic in that in new neighbourhoods, the developer/land owner dedicates the land to the city with zero compensation, and pays all costs to landscape the park, including play structures and play fields, but then have been stripped of any input to name the park;
- What criteria would define an Indigenous name;
- The Development and Planning process is delayed significantly because the application requires a name for each street and park, yet the neighbourhood plans are tied up in the Civic Naming process. It is important to note that updating of these requirements should not hinder parallel processes. Roadblock have emerged from City of Regina Planning Department to not allow using names from the current approved list in what appears to be anticipation of the recommendation taken to the Regina Planning Commission. This places the development industry in a naming purgatory; and
- How the Civic Naming Committee completes its duties and makes decisions is not clear or transparent. We are concerned that when an inquiry about a street name is made, that a perception can continue by the City of Regina that the naming is a decision by the Community Developer.