Committee approves recommendation to rename Colonization Road

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

On Monday the Planning and Development Executive Committee unanimously voted for the recommendation to rename Colonization Road West and Colonization Road East.

Prior to voting, the committee were presented with a tally of the feedback from members of the community.

Cody Vangel, chief building official and municipal planner, said they have close to 45 responses since administration was authorized to go forward with the consultation process.

According to the report submitted by Vangel, out of the submitted responses there were only a select few that stated outright objections to the name change.

Coun. Douglas Judson brought this issue before council last year and has been vocal about why it is high time that the name gets changed.

“I was disappointed with the process that council adopted to address this topic, and I believe council has, so far, missed an opportunity to show leadership on this issue and on our journey of reconciliation,” Judson said in his opening remarks.

“I think my disappointment is shared by many people who wrote to us. We have forced people – Indigenous citizens of this community – to write to us, gobsmacked, that we don’t appear to understand what colonization is – that troubles me.”

Judson said over 240 people provided comments in 52 letters, and only 10 individuals opposed renaming the road.

Mayor June Caul said although she wholeheartedly agrees with moving forward to rename Colonization Road, she will not apologize for the way council handled the issue.

“I believe that it was prudent for council to make sure we had a proper policy in place before any vote came to it so that nobody on either side will come back to us and say ‘where did you get that from’,” Caul said. “Secondly, I won’t apologize for waiting and getting input, because what I wanted to see more than anything else that this whole issue was some education.”

Coun. Wendy Brunetta said they have heard loud and clear from those who did respond that the majority do agree that they should move in the direction of the name change.

Brunetta also echoed Caul’s comments and said everyone has a right to provide their feedback on issues.

“That’s our duty and responsibility to provide direction and consistency in processes,” Brunetta said. “I believe it was the right thing to do because we need to be able to say to people, this is the way the process works, and we already have a precedent.”

Judson said council should proceed with the renaming of Colonization Road East and West, with input from the public and especially local Indigenous people. He also said that two names should be chosen by the committee for the eastern and western roads while having at least one reflect local Indigenous heritage, culture or language.

Brunetta said she received a request from a resident whose elderly parents reside on Colonization Road that the new name be one that could be easily pronounced.

“Because if their elderly parent fell and had to call 911 I think if it were a name that were difficult for them to pronounce or something they didn’t understand, they maybe couldn’t tell the ambulance where to go,” Brunetta said.

Caul said if council approved the recommendation to change the street name, she suggests that council decide on a few names and then let residents who live on Colonization Road make their vote.

Councillors are expected to vote on whether to approve this recommendation during next week’s council meeting.

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