North Cowichan will reach out to the Penelakut Nation in efforts to find a new name for a portion of Humbird Street, located close to Echo Heights Park in Chemainus.
The municipality is looking to rename portions of Humbird Street and Green Road to provide ease in locating properties for emergency services and residents.
In the case of Humbird Street, the street is currently in two sections separated by Echo Heights Park which sometimes causes confusion in locating addresses, while finding properties on Green Road is made difficult due to the roundabout adjacent to the Cowichan Commons that separates the road.
At the council meeting on Feb. 19, staff proposed to rename the portions of Green Road in question to Crosland Place, in memory of Ralph and Samuel Crosland who purchased the land it is on in 1915, and that the portion of Humbird Street north of Echo Heights Park be renamed MacMillan Street, in honour of the lumber baron Harvey R. MacMillan.
While council agreed to the renaming of the section of Green Road, staff were directed to write a letter to the Penelakut Nation for suggestions of alternative names for Humbird Street in recognition of the culturally significant features of that area.
Coun. Kate Marsh said Harvey R. MacMillan did a lot for Chemainus and the area in the 20th Century, but the area around Humbird Street was a sacred place for the Penelakut Nation.
“In this age of reconciliation, the new name of the street should reflect what it represents to these people,” she said.
“We should write a letter to the Penelakut Nation to see what they recommend. I think it will also save us a lot of time.”
Coun. Rosalie Sawrie also said she would like to see a name that reflects indigenous history, but Mayor Al Siebring said he would prefer that staff prepare a community engagement plan to come up with a new name for the street.
“I’d like to leave it them [staff] to determine how that’s carried out,” he said.
Coun. Tek Manhas said he wants residents in Chemainus and the general community to also have input into the decision.
“These are our taxpayers who are paying for these roads,” he said.
Coun. Debra Toporowski said she sees no harm in sending the letter to the Penelakut Nation asking for their input, while also seeking suggestions from the general community.
Bernie Jones, a member of the Chemainus Residents Association who appeared at the council meeting as a delegation, also asked that council consult with the community before renaming the northern section of Humbird Street.