Skip to content

Renaming issue draws crowd at Powell River City Hall

Pro- and anti- name change advocates demonstrate inside and outside building

Powell River City Hall was the site of a demonstration and a counter demonstration over the prospect of a name change for the city.

On the Facebook Powell River Message Board page, Ted Vizzutti had posted an entry called “say no to the name change of Powell River.” People were invited to assemble at city hall on May 4 at 6:30 pm prior to a city council meeting.

The Facebook post stated: “We, the citizens of Powell River, are coming together to tell elected officials that we are not in favour of a name change for our city. Please come out in support with your signs and voices. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

To counter the initiative, a throng of people, many wearing orange shirts, also turned up outside at city hall, ostensibly in support of a renaming.

Name change supporter Phil Russell estimated there were at least 200 people in attendance.

“This is an indication of the want in this community to do the right thing for the Tla’amin people, who have lived here for thousands of years; this shouldn’t even be happening,” said Russell. "When the hegus of the Tla’amin Nation sent a letter asking the city, the mayor and council, to change the name, I thought the response would have been ‘what’s the name, what’s the date, and how big can we make the celebration?’ I thought that should have been the city’s response.”

Russell said when the city responded by opening up a process, what he heard was anti-Indigenous bile.

“I was stunned at what I was hearing in this community,” added Russell. “This process that the city started should be stopped and the city should follow the lead of the former Queen Charlotte City in Haida Gwaii and change the name of this city. That would be the right and honourable thing to do.”

Vizzutti was offered the opportunity to make a statement prior to the city council meeting and chose not to do so.