'It's time for a rewrite': Motion approved to revisit St. Albert naming policy to promote inclusivity
EDMONTON -- The process St. Albert uses to determine names of landmarks could be changing after city council approved a motion to host public engagement sessions to gather community feedback about landmark names in the municipality.
St. Albert City Council unanimously approved to revisit its municipal naming policy framework and that a public engagement campaign be created to help find suitable suggestions of names not associated with the residential school system to potentially replace landmarks named after Bishop Vital Grandin and others included in the city’s significant names list.
Vital Grandin, a bishop from the Roman Catholic Church who worked and lived in St. Albert, helped administer and design Canada’s residential school system.
According to St. Albert city administration there are an estimated 600 businesses, streets, civic sites, and municipal properties that have “some level” of association with Grandin or the residential school system.
Coun. Natalie Joly brought forward the motion to council to initiate conversations about the municipal naming policy and how it can be more inclusive and reflect the diversity of St. Albert.
The naming policy was created to help guide the naming process and framework within the municipality for roads, neighbourhoods, and city-owned properties. The policy helps determine names of people that “reflect St. Albert’s heritage.”
For Joly, the policy is out of date and needs improvements to help ensure names associated with the residential school system are no longer considered but also that any name chosen is truly representative of the community of St. Albert.
She expressed her support to engage the community and consult with them on "what our naming policy looks like."
"Right now, we have a naming policy that was written prior to our, our commitments to these kind of three really aspect of our values, and so it's time for a rewrite," she said. "That's going to, in my opinion, need really kind of thorough consultation, and it's not something that can be done off of someone's desk, and so that's why I like to see it as being a complete project that's really thought out."
Joly said gathering the voices of different St. Albertans through consultation was important since she believed council chambers was not “the right room” to make decisions and that there needed to be engagement from all St. Albertans.
Coun. Wes Broadhead said he supported the idea to host consultation and that any conversation about renaming should be community-driven.
“This is work that needs to be done, whatever the outcome,” Broadhead said. “The outcome comes out of the community consultation.”
The approved motion will use funds from St. Albert’s 2022 budget to cover the costs of consultation and present a business case to undertake revisions or a complete rewrite of the municipal naming policy.
The City of Edmonton removed Grandin’s name from the Government Centre LRT station on June 7. Other jurisdictions across Canada have already changed or signalled their intent to change landmarks named after Grandin.
Contact the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free 1 (800) 721-0066 or 24-hour Crisis Line 1 (866) 925-4419 if you require further emotional support or assistance.
A previous version of this article inaccurately stated Coun. Natalie Joly said during the council meeting that "the best action the city could take is finance consultation and engagement sessions to help drive the process for new name suggestions." CTV News apologizes for the error.