© Kirk Starratt
With a Birch Court, a Birch Drive, a Birch Lane and two Birch Streets in Kings County, which will get to keep the name?
KINGS COUNTY - The first group of residents to be affected by a street renaming project could be notified by letter as early as March.
Kings County council’s committee of the whole is recommending approval of an implementation plan brought forth by administration and public safety supervisor Brian Desloges.
In January, council approved amendments to Bylaw 96, the Civic Address and Street Name Bylaw, relating to like sounding, duplicated and inconsistent road and street names. This will result in hundreds of residents having to change their address.
In cases where an existing road name is creating a public safety issue based on input from emergency responders, it’s likely that a renaming process will be initiated. Potential exists for confusion and delayed response times.
Although some councillors expressed concern over financial impacts and inconvenience to residents, Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle pointed out that it’s important not to loose sight of the purpose.
“There will be a cost but if saves one life, it’s well spent,” Hirtle said.
The rollout plan involves a series of three letters and online notifications on the county website. Letters will be sent beginning in March. Desloges said approximately 10 to 15 streets or roads would go through the process at a time, according to their priority for renaming. It’s expected to take several years to fully implement the project.
The first letter will explain the project. Residents will have 30 days to submit an alternate name for consideration. A date for a public information session to review suggested street names would be provided.
The civic address coordinator will identify a name that meets all criteria. The new name will be posted online and sent in a second letter to affected residents. Staff will submit proposed names to council for approval.
In the third letter, residents will be notified of the new street name approved by council and the date the new name goes into effect, six months after approval. A change of address checklist will be provided online and residents will be encouraged to notify contacts. The municipality will handle some notifications.
County staff will submit approved names to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal so signs can be manufactured and installed at the end of the six-month notification period.
County IT staff will revise 911 emergency response mapping and submit new names to the province to update the emergency dispatchers database before the name comes into effect.
Although it’s unlikely that all will be changed, county staff has identified 116 streets and roads across the municipality in non-compliance with the bylaw.
Desloges used the name ‘Birch’ as an example. There’s a Birch Court in Coldbrook, a Birch Drive in Greenwich, a Birch Street in New Minas, a Birch Lane in Aylesford and a Birch Street at 14 Wing Greenwood.
Coun. Peter Muttart asked if four of five streets with the word ‘Birch’ in their name would be changed. Desloges said one would remain but the problem is deciding which one.
Council weighs in
Coun. Pauline Raven suggested providing affected residents with a small amount of money to offset expenses involved with changing address. She said if council fails to arrange for a future discussion of costs, it “will be doing a disservice to some residents.”
Desloges said there would be some costs to residents but many notifications could be made online or by phone for free. The municipality will be notifying Canada Post of name changes. He said there would be a $25 cost to have a drivers licence renewed.
Coun. Kim MacQuarrie said change of address stickers for drivers licences are available for free so affected residents could wait until it’s time to renew licences to pay the $25 fee. She said in other areas where similar renaming projects have happened, affected residents have been left to deal with the post office themselves.
Coun. Bob Best, who works for Canada Post, said he believes there would be a charge for every resident to change address if it’s the result of a provincial or municipal initiative. He pointed out that the change of address process could be more costly to seniors without computers to make changes online.
“It’s going to cost money,” Best said. “It’s going to cost some seniors a lot of money.”
Coun. Dale Lloyd said the municipality could expect calls from some First Nations residents wanting to rid roads and streets in Kings County of the name ‘Cornwallis’.
Raven said she sees the project as an opportunity to do so.