Board support weakens for regional government name change

Three Powell River Regional District directors question original votes

/ Powell River Peak

August 8, 2017 04:00 PM

Despite unanimously voting in favour of changing the name of Powell River Regional District, not all of the board’s directors said they are satisfied with their decision.

In June, board chair Patrick Brabazon brought the idea of changing the local government’s name to qathet (pronounced KA’thet) Regional District.

Brabazon said at the time the regional district would benefit from having a separate identity from City of Powell River.

The name was given to the regional district by Tla’amin Nation elders. It means “people working together” in the spirit of reconciliation.

Electoral Area B alternate director Alan Rebane, Electoral Area C director Colin Palmer and Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick have now said they are having second thoughts about supporting the name change.

Rebane said he does not support the name change process the way it currently stands.

"I've agreed with it so far, only because we’ve got to get this in front of the public," he said. "Now it will go in front of the public and I’ll be speaking against the name change.”

Since June, four votes have taken place moving the process along for the name with the unanimous support of the board.

Regional district staff are in the process of organizing a public-consultation meeting in each of the regional district’s electoral areas and in City of Powell River.

“We have agreed to go to public engagement and during that all of the legitimate concerns of all the directors should be satisfied by this type of engagement,” said Brabazon.

Regional district board does not actually have the power to change its own name. The decision is up to the provincial government and the local government has to make a case for the name change to the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

The regional district will have to show evidence the idea has been brought to the public for its thoughts and that the public supports it.

“If the people do not like this, then they have to tell us so and it will die,” said Brabazon.

Rebane said he would have liked to see a wider range of options for names being brought forward, rather than just the one.

Since June, Rebane said he has received few positive comments from his constituents and has had some ask why no other name choices were put forward.

“I’m not at all against reconciliation,” he said. “I would like to see a range of names come up.”

Electoral Area C director Colin Palmer said that he also has reservations about the name.

“It’s a wonderful sentiment,” he said. “I like it, but to name a regional district after a sentiment; what the heck are we doing here?”

McCormick said she would have liked to have had more discussion on what problem the current name presents the regional district.

“There should have been more preliminary discussion at the board table to decide if this was even the route we wanted to go down,” said McCormick.

Brabazon said he will attend each of the public-engagement sessions and he and district staff will be available to answer any questions.

He said residents attending the sessions will be asked to fill out a short form and indicate whether they supported the name change or not.


Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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