Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Izzy's Way will be easy to find

  • Print
Izzy Asper

CNS Enlarge Image

Izzy Asper

Winnipeg's city council will soon be asked to consider a request to rename a portion of Waterfront Drive in honour of the late Izzy Asper, one of the city's great citizens who was responsible for at least $100 million in funding being poured into the community through his foundation, corporate donations and personal gifts.

Mr. Asper was also the visionary who developed the idea for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and who secured federal support for the project in the early years of its development. The museum is probably his single greatest contribution to Winnipeg and the nation, so it is only right and fitting that the street in front of the towering edifice bears his name.

It should be a simple decision, despite the fact the city doesn't like to rename city streets, particularly if it involves changing an existing historic name, or if the change would cause an expense to businesses that would be required to change their letterheads. Other considerations include safety issues -- name changes can be a problem for emergency services -- and GPS systems also depend on reliable and consistent street names.

None of these concerns are relevant in this case, however, because there are no businesses on Waterfront Drive in The Forks and the existing name is relatively new. Nor would police or firefighters have any trouble finding Izzy Asper Way, directly in front of the museum.

The museum's CEO, Stuart Murray, requested the name change last May, but the wheels of city hall have been slow to turn. The delay means there probably will not be enough time for a name-changing ceremony on Oct. 7, the 10th anniversary of his death.

The request appears to have been delayed because the city prefers to use honorary name changes, similar to the installation of Mahatma Gandhi Way on York Avenue between Main Street and Waterfront Drive.

That was an appropriate decision for a variety of reasons, including the fact York is a historic name, but a mere honourary title for Mr. Asper would be an insult to his legacy.

Winnipeg is one of the few major cities that names streets after its outstanding citizens -- mayors, premiers, long-serving councillors, philanthropists and business people. The names Bannatyne, Ashdown, Luxton, Garry, Donald, Smith and Hargrave all stem from this tradition of paying tribute to the people who made a difference or played an important role in the life and success of the city.

Most cities use a numbered system, which may be a lot more convenient. Winnipeg tried that method briefly in the 1890s, but eventually decided it preferred a city with character. It got rid of the numbers and reinstalled the old names.

Mr. Asper's name already adorns numerous buildings and institutions in Winnipeg, but there has been no official recognition of his importance since his death.

His contributions, moreover, are not relegated to the past, as was the case with so many of the people whose names are remembered on street signs. The Asper Foundation, which he created in 1983, is one of the largest private foundations in Canada. It hands out millions of dollars every year, including $100,000 to the United Way.

His children, Leonard, David and Gail, have also carried on the tradition and each manages their own private foundations on behalf of the community.

In that sense, Izzy Asper is the gift that keeps on giving, and will in perpetuity, since the Asper Foundation was established as a permanent institution. As he told his children before his death, the foundation was to be regarded as his fourth child.

Renaming a street is not enough, but there will be time for more honours in the future.

For now, rather than delaying the process, city council should consider how it can speed it up in time for a major announcement on Oct. 7.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2013 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

City Beautiful trailer: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Carolyn Kavanagh(10) had this large dragonfly land on her while spending time at Winnetka Lake, Ontario. photo by Andrea Kavanagh (mom0 show us your summer winnipeg free press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Are you still on the Bombers' and Jets' bandwagons?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google