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qathet Regional District took measured approach to renaming

While City of Powell River continues to talk about changing its name, rebranding for qRD has been done incrementally since its new name came into effect in 2018
INITIATIVES SUMMARIZED: qathet Regional District chief administrative officer Al Radke outlined the costs and measures taken in changing the regional district’s name from Powell River Regional District. As City of Powell River contemplates changing its name, questions have been raised about the cost of the renaming, and the regional district was open and transparent about sharing its experiences.

A local government name change can be a daunting prospect but in the case of qathet Regional District (qRD), a measured approach has been taken.

While City of Powell River is having discussions with Tla’amin Nation about the prospect of changing the city’s name, qRD has already been through the process. To determine what was involved for qRD cost-wise, the Peak wrote to qRD chief administrative officer Al Radke and manager of financial services Linda Greenan, to determine what the costs were and how the regional district planned around the name change from Powell River Regional District to qathet Regional District.

Radke provided a lengthy response to the Peak’s request; the following is his written statement:

“One premise that Powell River Regional District took and advised the public on was that name change costs did not have to occur immediately,” stated Radke. “We heard concerns that the public was worried that expenses and taxes would go up in direct relation to one another because of sign changes, rebranding, et cetera. We took the approach that for immediacy, some signs would change where pertinent, but others would remain until a need for repair or replacement came about.

“We took a page from the City of Powell River, as we noted that they still had vehicles in their fleet with the old Corporation of the District of Powell River name and logo on them, which they were driving around town. We have since followed suit and you will see many instances throughout the community, for example, our beach access signs. It actually took us quite a while before we changed the sign on our building.

“Letterhead was an easy transition. Believe it or not, we were still in the dark ages and were getting stock printed with our name and logo. Once the name change was official, we slowly ran this stock out and used it sparingly on letters of note and used a lot of it internally. What we ended up doing was simply utilizing technology to print the letter and the letterhead/logo direct from our computers. We did this for the more higher profile letters and eventually it became the norm and practice as all of the printed stock had been consumed. This change ended up being a cost savings, as staff did not need to spend the time or money to order the more expensive letterhead paper stock.

Reaching out

“During the process I reached out to various organizations. Periodically, the contemplation of a name change arises at the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). The chief administrative officer (CAO) at the time shared with me that they had pegged the number at upwards of $300,000. This included stationery, vehicles, buses, parks and recreation facilities, publications, signage, the RDN website, et cetera. The minimum cost for the design and grant process for a coat of arms was apparently around $6,000. As you can see, they were going after the whole enchilada, and they are considerably larger in reach and scope than we are. inclusion Powell River shared with me that they felt their name change to rebrand was about $15,000.

“So, the approach qathet Regional District took was to roll out the transition and rebranding over three to five years. We officially received our name change through order in council of the lieutenant governor on July 5, 2018. I am certain there are still signs, et cetera, that have not been converted.

“What was at the top of mind were things like: domain names; website; email addresses; email address signature blocks; voice mail messages; print ready logo(s) for using in regard to our computers; report templates; supplier announcements; media release and/or ads in local media; internal software/programming that had an outward public facing exposure, for example, iCompass, TV That’s Powell River, Envisio, et cetera; office building door signage; business cards. Many of these would have little or no cost consequence to them other than staff time invested.

“The more publicly seen items such as office(s) sign(s), vehicle decals, park signage and beach access signs could wait until such time that it was truly warranted. When we purchase something like a vehicle which requires identification, we apply the new name and logo.

Staff time

“The only other costs associated with the name change would have been staff time. This would have been the time to perform research, set up open house advertising, reserve facilities for open houses (most were held in regional district or city-owned facilities, so there was little to no cost incurred), prepare open house materials, attend open houses, answer questions from the public, prepare reports for the board, committee and board meetings, et cetera. These costs, however, were absorbed through our annual work plans and respective salary functions.

“Unfortunately, rightly or wrongly, we did not track costs in a separate account. All costs flowed through our general ledger under whatever service was appropriate: repairs and maintenance, supplies, salaries, et cetera. We estimated for rebranding all at once, rather than waiting until the lifespan of an item was rescheduled, to be between $50,000 to $75,000. We took the long approach and those figures are being spread out over at least five years and possibly more in some cases.

“Although we do not have any quantitative data to share, we believe the costs as a whole have been minimal. Many of the costs would be expected to be realized over time anyway.”