Council approves Municipal Naming Policy

Honouring past citizens by naming streets, trails or buildings and the need for public consultation on the same is part of a policy approved by Council on Sept. 27.

by Colin Smith

Providing a fair, consistent, and efficient process for naming and renaming in Morinville is the goal of a new town policy.

The Municipal Naming Policy, approved by council at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27 will cover all aspects of municipal naming while aiming to respect the need for public consultation and legislative approvals.

The policy was adopted after its presentation by municipal intern Rachelle Gilbert.

With specific guidelines for heritage naming, commemorative naming and sponsorships and naming rights, it replaces the Commemorative Naming Policy approved in 2020.

As set out in the policy, heritage naming covers town facilities and facility amenities, roads and parks and trails.

In the previous policy, that had been referred to as commemorative naming, which has been redefined to be commemorative benches and trees. These have been requested by Morinville community members.

Sponsorship and naming rights have been incorporated into the policy as the town recognizes and supports this as an alternative revenue generation strategy to offset costs associated with Town assets such facilities, programs, events, and services.

“By defining the requirements for renaming and sponsorship and naming rights, the policy will protect the town from risk of losing revenue associated with sponsorships, lack of control of municipal assets with naming rights sold, and naming Town assets for controversial figures,” Gilbert stated in her presentation.

The creation of the policy has taken place at a time when renaming municipal features has become common in Alberta and across Canada as a response to calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

“An environmental scan, done by a community in the region, showed 76 renaming cases across Canada where 71 of those cases did rename municipal assets due to exclusive European narrative, controversial names, limited diversity and inclusion of other groups, and more accurate history. Before renaming can occur, a process is needed.”

However, Morinville’s policy states explicitly that proposals to rename existing town features will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

It says that existing names will not be changed without consideration of their historical significance, the impact on the individual or organization associated with them, the cost and impact of updating records, changing existing signage and rebuilding community recognition, and consistency with the mission, vision, or values of Morinville.

Names selected for heritage naming and renaming are drawn from the Names Reserve List.

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