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Renaming of West Railway Ave. clears a hurdle at council

Council approves updated Street and Neighbourhood Naming Policy, and directs administration to proceed with public notice to rename West Railway Ave.
NB council rename railway
North Battleford Director of Corporate Services Jennifer Niesink, below, updates council on the updated street naming policy.

NORTH BATTLEFORD — The next step towards the potential renaming of one of North Battleford’s Railway Avenues cleared a major hurdle at city council on Monday night.

A resolution was passed by council Monday to adopt an updated Street and Neighbourhood Naming Policy, as well as direct city administration to proceed with public notice for renaming West Railway Avenue.

Actuasl renaming is not likely to happen until the new year.

The street naming policy itself is straightforward. According to Director of Corporate Services Jennifer Niesink, that policy includes a public notice period, but final approval of any changes would come to council.

The policy is in response to a request that came before council recently to change the various Railway Avenues in the city — Railway Avenue, South Railway Avenue and West Railway Avenue — to Indigenous or First Nation-inspired names. 

Niesink told council that in the course of their investigations, they found that the various “Railway Avenues" in the city are actually legally all Railway Avenue. At some point over the years, Niesink said, administration made some distinctions, but originally it was all the same street.

Regarding the two sections that have been under the heaviest consideration for a name change, West Railway and South Railway, Niesink noted that West Railway actually has only two agricultural properties on it so would make the most sense to start with.

South Railway Avenue, on the other hand, has 14 light-industrial properties on it. 

If council is to go forward with a name change, administration’s suggestion was to start with West Railway Avenue. Niesink said the first step would be to meet with an elders' group to find a new name.

The intention would be for the elders' group to recommend a new name, and for that be put forward to the public consultation for discussion. 

Following that, it would go to council for final approval. Council would ultimately have the final say on whether the name change would go ahead.

Niesink told council that logistically this would happen in the new year, as it is not something they can do adequately right now. For now, administration asked to approve the policy so they could have something in place. 

According to a city memo from Ryan Mackrell, assistant director of Corporate Services, the estimated cost of changing West Railway Avenue is $3,000.

The indication from council members was that they were happy with the recommendation from administration, with a name change for West Railway Avenue seen to be the least disruptive option to properties in the city compared to Railway Avenue or South Railway Avenue.

“West Railway was the one that was a bit of an outlier,” said Councillor Kelli Hawtin, who noted changing that name “doesn’t affect businesses, it doesn’t affect residential properties. I think this is a good recommendation.”