The amount of input First Nations should have in naming Strathcona Regional District parks was up for debate at the regional district’s last board meeting.
Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson said reaching out to First Nations for suggestions in naming parkland is a simple and respectful way of creating dialogue.
“I suggest we insert into this a piece that one of the very first things we do when we’re naming a park is to go to First Nations whose territory the park is in and invite or solicit a name for recommendation,” Anderson said. “It’s a really, really easy conversation to be had with nothing to be lost. If we can find ways of opening up those relationships with the really simple pieces it may well lead to other discussions and there’s literally nothing at risk.”
Anderson made the recommendation at the regional district board meeting held July 23.
The board was discussing minor amendments to the regional district’s parks and public facilities naming bylaw.
The original bylaw was created by the former Comox-Strathcona Regional District in 2006 and was carried over to the Strathcona Regional District. The board asked staff to update the policy.
Anniko Nelson, parks and planning supervisor for the regional district, said the changes that staff came back with were minor.
“The amendments are limited to providing further clarity regarding parks naming guidelines and providing opportunity for input from the public, federal and provincial government and First Nations in the naming process,” Nelson wrote in a report to the board. But board chair and Quadra Island Director Jim Abram disagreed with some of those changes.
“I’d like a complete elimination of the words ‘from provincial or federal governments,’” Abram said. “That has no place whatsoever in my mind. They have no business in naming our parks. They don’t pay for our parks, we pay for our parks. I think it detracts from the First Nations importace. I would like that removed.”
But Campbell River Director Ron Kerr disagreed.
“I think the current language is totally appropriate…and to suggest the provincial and federal governments are not included in this I think is out of line, truthfully, because they’re the governments,” Kerr said.
Directors also thought Anderson’s suggestion with first approaching First Nations was going too far.
“I think we’re trying to make this too complicated,” Samson said. “It says ‘may solicit First Nations’ so it has that option. We’re trying to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s and we’re trying to cover every potential problem that could come up. I think the way it is as presented is fine and it gives us those options.”
Campbell River Director Andy Adams agreed.
“The original amendment provides enough latitude to consult with First Nations,” said Adams. “Leave it as the original motion and I think we’re all in agreement this is something worthy of consideration but to try and prescribe that in a motion I think is too complicated.”
The original amendment proposed by staff for the parks naming policy reads: The regional district may solicit culturally and historically appropriate park and public facility names from federal, provincial government and local First Nations with traditional territory in the area for consideration in the selection process. That wording, in the end, was approved by regional district directors, along with the rest of the policy which also states that primary consideration will be given to local geography, natural features, history and tradition associated with the park. Area D Director Brenda Leigh said the board should stick with naming parks based on their location because it’s easier for people to remember.
“I still call the park in front of Campbell River the foreshore even though they re-named it 10 years ago. In my mind, it’s still a location – it’s still the foreshore and a lot of people still refer to it as that because we refer to the geographic location,” Leigh said.