City of Powell River councillors were briefed on what it would take to change the name of the city.
At the July 13 committee of the whole meeting, city chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said he was presenting a memo for council’s information and the community’s information because there were a lot of questions when this topic first came up.
“Staff wanted to capture at least the initial history of this,” said Brewer. “It came up in May at the C3 (community-to-community-to-community) meeting and was further discussed at the June 15 committee of the whole meeting. Subsequently, there has been the letter from [Tla’amin Nation] hegus [John Hackett].
“The memo is intended to give a preliminary high-level overview for your information with some initial enquiries with the ministry of municipal affairs. Staff reached out to say: here is the conversation that has started, can you give us an idea of what might be required, should this conversation carry on?”
Brewer said Powell River is “kind of unique” in that it was incorporated directly by the provincial legislature under the Incorporation Act. He said there are not too many municipalities that were similarly incorporated. He said there were some additional letters patent that would require further legal advice and engagement with the province as to how that would impact the authorities and process.
Brewer said the expectation from the province is that the local government initiates a meaningful public engagement process regarding the name change, including establishing a rationale for the change, providing public notice, and undertaking a public consultation process where they engage with and receive feedback from the electorate.
“That’s something the minister and the ministry of municipal affairs would expect to see,” said Brewer. “When a municipal council has completed the work and is confident in its plan to proceed, it would then be expected to formally write the minister, asking the province to formalize the name change.”
The city would have to provide supporting documentation, including a synopsis of the public engagement undertaken, a list of those consulted, conclusions of the consultation and a summary of results, a copy of the public notice and a copy of the council resolution indicating support for the name change, according to Brewer. A resolution from Tla’amin Nation would be another requirement, he said.
Based on the request and supporting information, the minister would determine whether to recommend amending the letters patent to cabinet, which typically has final authority to make the change.
“I just wanted council and the community to be aware of what the process would be at this point,” said Brewer. “Obviously, we’ve received lots of correspondence and a lot of phone calls questioning where we were at and what was going on. This helps summarize where we are at and what would be required of the ministry.”
Committee chair councillor Maggie Hathaway said the report was very helpful.
“It gave me some really clear guidelines on how to proceed,” said Hathaway.
Councillor Cindy Elliott said given the decision-making powers of the province in this particular process, would it be a good plan to include MLA Nicholas Simons or a representative of him in the process?
Brewer said related to that, the city has made two ministerial meeting requests at the coming Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention and the city has asked that Simons be included in the meeting.