June 15, 2019

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A curb on street renaming

Councillors want guidelines in place before honouring any more luminaries

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2009 (3524 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whoa there, Nellie McClung. Wait a sec, Neil Young.

City councillors want to put the brakes on naming streets after famous Winnipeggers until someone comes up with a methodical means of choosing which local luminaries deserve to be immortalized with their own stretch of asphalt.

Fearing a trickle of requests to rename streets may soon turn into a flood, councillors have asked city planners to come up with a formal framework to govern these decisions.

The move comes after the same civic activist who successfully convinced council to change the name of downtown's Water Avenue to William Stephenson Way -- in honour of the Second World War spymaster -- returned to council early this month with a new request to rename another downtown street after Clara Hughes, the Olympic cyclist and speedskater.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2009 (3524 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whoa there, Nellie McClung. Wait a sec, Neil Young.

City councillors want to put the brakes on naming streets after famous Winnipeggers until someone comes up with a methodical means of choosing which local luminaries deserve to be immortalized with their own stretch of asphalt.

Nellie McClung

Nellie McClung

Fearing a trickle of requests to rename streets may soon turn into a flood, councillors have asked city planners to come up with a formal framework to govern these decisions.

The move comes after the same civic activist who successfully convinced council to change the name of downtown's Water Avenue to William Stephenson Way — in honour of the Second World War spymaster — returned to council early this month with a new request to rename another downtown street after Clara Hughes, the Olympic cyclist and speedskater.

"Because we're getting so many of these requests, it's becoming clear we have a very ad-hoc (and) very random process. It's hard to make decisions without some kind of policy," said Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, one of three councillors who formally requested the name-change policy on Oct. 6, when the Clara Hughes proposal came before council's city centre community committee.

Along with John Orlikow (River Heights) and Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre), Gerbasi asked city planners to incorporate a name-change policy into Our Winnipeg, the city's new long-term planning blueprint.

But other councillors have also expressed concern with the lack of consistency applied to street renamings, noting famous Winnipeg names such as rock 'n' roll icon Young, pioneering feminist McClung and philanthropist Izzy Asper have yet to receive such an honour.

St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel, for example, believes Young should be the next expat to be honoured with a street of his own, but only after the city figures out a logical way to make these decisions.

"There are a lot of people worthy of having something named after them. We just have to have a policy so we're not doing these on a one-off basis," Swandel said.

William Stephenson

CP

William Stephenson

Right now, when a street-renaming request comes to city council, politicians typically ask city staff to study the idea. In the case of William Stephenson Way, a May request to rename Portage Avenue East was rejected in September because too many businesses would have been forced to change their addresses, websites, payroll systems and other materials.

Water Avenue was eventually chosen to honour Winnipeg-born Stephenson — also known as The Man Called Intrepid — because few businesses were affected by the change. Stephenson's accomplishments were not an issue, given the spymaster's role in gathering intelligence that helped shorten the duration of the Second World War and saving countless lives on both sides.

Future renaming requests, however, could be handled more efficiently if a policy was in place at the outset, councillors say. One suggestion that came before Gerbasi's committee was to give renaming precedence to slain soldiers from Winnipeg or City of Winnipeg employees who died on the job.

 

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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