Newspaper to blame for residents’ petition, Mayor says

City council took some heat for wanting to change the name of Spirit Square – something council never intended to do, says Mayor

City council took some heat for wanting to change the name of Spirit Square – something council never intended to do, says Mayor Walter Jakeway.

A group of concerned residents presented council with a petition signed by 50 people asking council to reconsider renaming Spirit Square.

But Jakeway said council has never had any plans to rename the downtown meeting place, which hosts several outdoor concerts and community events throughout the year.

“We’ve been presented with a petition in reference to a motion I made in November,” Jakeway said at last week’s Tuesday council meeting. “The motion was to re-name 11th Avenue from Cedar Street to the cenotaph to Veteran’s Way to honour our vets.”

Jakeway said the confusion was related to an editorial published in the Courier Islander after Jakeway put forward his motion, which was approved by council and is currently being worked on by city staff.

“In one of our local papers the person writing the paper extrapolated that idea to include Spirit Square and I believe this petition is in response to that article in the paper,” Jakeway said. “But the motion does not include Spirit Square, it only talks about 11th Avenue.”

That fooled several people who signed a petition at Nesbitt’s Island Coffee during a four-day period in late November.

The petition asks council to leave well enough alone.

“Give 11th Avenue a new name to honour our veterans but leave Spirit Square the way it is,” the petition reads. “By a parliamentary decree the name was spirited – please just leave it the way it is. Spirit Square speaks for itself.”

Petitioners also didn’t like the thought of a venue dedicated to veterans being used for public functions.

“Our rationale is based impart on the question: would you dance and play, hop and skip, and sell things on a memorial?” the petition asks.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Jakeway stressed that Spirit Square’s name will remain the same.

“I brought it up for clarity,” he said. “I just want to make clear to people who aren’t watching our activities too closely that the motion being worked on by staff only includes re-naming 11th Avenue.”

The pending name change was supported by council just after Remembrance Day.

Changing the name to Veteran’s Way will affect three local businesses – the Legion, Uptown Willie’s cafe, Britches and Hose Vintage Clothing – and the city’s Community Centre.

Those businesses affected will be eligible for reimbursement from the city for change of address costs up to $2,500.

Spirit Square opened Nov. 2, just in time for the Olympic Torch Relay to come through later that same afternoon. The square was built in the heart of downtown at a cost of about $1.7 million.