Morinville – Applause erupted in council chambers last night after Morinville Town Council voted unanimously to deny a proposal to rename Morinville’s Sunshine Estates to Riopel District as part of its commemorative naming program.
More than a dozen residents of the Sunshine Estates neighbourhood came to the Aug. 24 meeting to hear the decision and to lend their voice against the proposal, giving a physical presence to the approximately 70 letters of opposition residents sent to the Commemorative Naming Committee prior to the Aug. 4 cut off for opposing voices.
After making a motion to deny the proposal, Councillor Paul Krauskopf had a few words to say on the matter. “I understand that a lot of work has gone on for this and there is a lot of emotion involved in the naming of this district,” he said. “But the whole idea of the Commemorative Naming Policy was to recognize past residents of Morinville but also to recognize history. Sunshine Estates has a history and a history of 40-sme years.”
Krauskopf went on to say the fact that Morinville already had a district named Riopel District, combined with the opposition to the proposal, made it incumbent upon Morinville Town Council to deny the proposal.
One Sunshine Estates resident who had been prepared to speak on the group’s behalf at last night’s council meeting is Linda Lyons. The long-time resident said the group was happy with the outcome.
“The Sunshine residents are very pleased, all of us,” she said, adding she was thankful to all the residents who took the time to write letters of opposition to the proposal.
Although the opponents had come to the meeting in good numbers, Lyons said they weren’t anticipating a fight with councillors. Rather the group expected one of two outcomes: either the proposal would be defeated or it would be deferred until October or November when the Town’s Commemorative Naming Policy had been reviewed.
But while the group was opposed to giving the Riopel name to their district, Lyons said the opposition was out of a desire to preserve their own neighbourhood history rather than any opposition to the name Riopel.
“It was Sunshine Estates when we moved in,” Lyons said, noting that at that time it was a new district with many vacant lots and few trees. “I got a hug last night from a girl who was born and raised here. It means a lot.”
Lyons said Sunshine Estates is one of the few districts in Morinville that people know by name. “When you say, ‘I live in Sunshine Estates,’ people know where you live,” she said. “There’s not a lot of districts in Morinville that people say that. A lot of people don’t even know what district they live in, what it’s called.”
But coming from a long family heritage in Westlock, Lyons said she fully understands the committee’s desire to honour past Morinville residents and to celebrate the Town’s history. “There’s absolutely no disrespect at all to the Riopel name,” she said.
Council’s denial to rename Sunshine Estates to Riopel District negated the committee’s other proposal to rename the current Riopel District to the Brissette District.
At the same meeting, council directed administration to revise the Commemorative Naming Policy so as to make a policy that expands public consultation in the naming process and creates a better process for opposition.
Morinville’s commemorative naming program began in 2005 to honour past and present residents whose outstanding contributions to scholarly, professional and public pursuits played a significant role in the community’s history. These residents were honoured by having their names attached to parks, streets and Town facilities. That process was expanded to include districts in 2008.