What’s in a street name?

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Streets in Old Town and elsewhere in Hay River might eventually be renamed to honour longtime residents and families under an idea being considered by town council.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Streets in Old Town and elsewhere in Hay River might eventually be renamed to honour longtime residents and families under an idea being considered by town council.

Town council is going to have its policy committee look into the idea of renaming streets in honour of longtime residents and families in Hay River.

Mayor Brad Mapes proposed the concept, which has been previously discussed over the years, at the Feb. 6 meeting of council.

“It’s a way to showcase our community and the people that we’ve got,” he said, adding it is also a way to remember former residents of the community.

“So I wanted to see if there’s any appetite for council to move forward and strike some type of a committee that could take it and start gathering the information, and bring it back to council probably sometime in June, if we do it,” he said.

While sections of town already have streets with recognizable family names, other areas do not. That includes some animal names, 553 with tree names, and Old Town with numbered streets.

“The idea isn’t new,” said Mapes of renaming streets.

His proposal is to ask the public to put names forward, including a history of the names in Hay River.

The mayor said Yellowknife has a rule that a person must have lived in the city for 30 or more years to be considered for a street name.

The idea of renaming some streets in Hay River was largely supported by council.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Coun. Vince McKay, who noted a policy might already exist because a family made such a request to the town in the past. “So there was kind of a waiting list already, if I remember correctly. There might be something still in our town records.”

Mapes replied there is a bylaw that covers the renaming of streets but he hasn’t been able to find any list of families what have made requests.

Coun. Keith Dohey also said he thinks it is a good concept.

“I think maybe an idea would be to send that to a committee before putting that out for an expression of interest to sort of come up with maybe some kind of criteria,” he said.

Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind also supported the concept.

“I like the idea and I think it’s something that we could have further discussion around,” said Jungkind. “Maybe we could start with a certain area and see what the interest is, and then, if we need to expand it, we go out from there. But I think it’s definitely a good idea and something that we could work on.”

Coun. Steve Anderson said renaming some streets has value for the community.

Coun. Roger Candow expressed some caution about the idea.

“It’s a nice-sounding idea and everything but it does pose a set of problems or inconveniences for the residents of those streets as they would have to get their postal changed, they’d have to get their driver’s licences changed,” he said. “There is a lot of stuff that the residents would have to get changed, just because we would like to go and name a street. We need to look at this a lot more closely rather than just say, ‘OK, let’s go out and start renaming the streets.'”

Mapes recognized renaming streets would create some issues.

“It’s not the first time that any community has changed the names, and I realize that it would place a burden on people,” he said.

At the end of the brief discussion, the mayor and council agreed the idea should be looked at by the policy committee.