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‘A bit of a farce’: New street names are in, but auction is out

'How do we go about getting this street naming policy changed so we don’t do this again?' asked councillor, frustrated with auctioning off names for charity
Earlier this week, Bradford West Gwillimbury council’s committee of the whole recommended approving three names for the town’s list of candidate street names, but not without some modifications — both to the names and to the policy.

What’s in a name? That which we call a road by any other name would spell just as sweet.

Earlier this week, council’s committee of the whole recommended approving three names for the town’s list of candidate street names, but not without some modifications — both to the names and to the policy.

Alan Wiebe, manager of community planning, prepared a report to council about the names, which were proposed for inclusion as part of CONTACT Community Services ‘A Home for the Holidays’ charity auction which ran in December of 2022 and raised funds for the organization’s ‘Community Hope Chest’ initiative.

As a result, three winning bidders proposed: Augusto Marques Boulevard, Froats (Lane, Drive or Way) and Barry Snaper (Avenue, Road or Way).

The auction was made possible after the previous council endorsed a modification to the town’s Street Naming Policy in May 2022, which enabled proposed additions to the list as part of a fundraising auction by a charitable organization.

Authorizing the names proved to be a challenge, though.

“This was a nice idea, but — with due respect to everyone involved — it’s a bit of a farce at this point. We let a charity auction off three street names, we received the street names and then we decided to evaluate them against the policy? There’s at least — on two of them — reasons why they don’t technically fit the policy,” Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott said.

In the case of Augusto Marques Boulevard, Wiebe noted in his report that the policy directs only last names be used, and street names be no longer than 18 characters in order to fit legibly on standard street signs, with this name requiring 25 characters.

As a compromise, Scott suggested abbreviating or dropping the first name.

“I would not be in favour of abbreviating anything. I would hate to have a family member or a loved one that had a service member’s name be put up here and then we changed it ... and it disrespects (the) integrity of the fallen members,” Ward 6 Coun. Nickolas Harper said.

Wiebe’s report shows that Froats was submitted in dedication of Harry Thomas Froats, who was born in 1917 and served in The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders infantry regiment during the Second World War.

Ward 4 Coun. Joseph Giordano took aim at the policy itself.

“I feel like we probably have no choice but to move ahead with this, because of a previous decision that was made, but I’m not in favour of this moving forward,” he said.

Ward 5 Coun. Peter Ferragine agreed with Scott that first names should be dropped, a sentiment echoed by Ward 3 Coun. Ben Verkaik, who also took issue with the policy.

“How do we go about getting this street naming policy changed so we don’t do this again?” he asked.

Mayor James Leduc tried to temper the proceedings.

“At the time it was a great idea, and I still think it’s a great idea to raise funds for charities that need funding. I’m going to say we defer it for now, go back to the folks and ask them if they’re OK with rescinding the first name and just go with the last name,” he said.

Wiebe interjected to clarify that both winning bidders for Augusto Marques and Barry Snaper had already expressed a first-choice preference for both the full first and last name, with a close second choice being first initial and last name. However, he added that the final decision is at council’s discretion and they could choose to use last names only if they prefer.

Town CAO, Geoff McKnight also interjected to add that these names aren’t just being added to the list of candidate street names, which are normally only given final approval by council at the time of their implementation — such as when a developer selects them for new streets.

“In this case it would be different, in that if you endorse names tonight, yes they’ll still go on the list ... but they’ll have some sort of asterisk or note stating they’re essentially pre-approved,” he said.

Ferragine said council should add just the three last names to the list and have them highlighted as part of the winning donation bids.

Scott agreed and suggested council also add an amendment to discontinue the element of the street naming policy related to auctions, which McKnight clarified would require striking Sec. 3.9 of the policy.

Council also considered including the first initial in front of Marques only as that name already exists on the list, but Giordano said he had concerns with potential confusion, especially as it relates to calls for emergency services, and Ferragine was against giving special treatment to just one name.

“I cannot say to one person ‘Drop your first initial,’ and the other one, ‘You’re OK.’ I have to treat them all exactly the same. I prefer to get rid of the first name, first initial — last name only and we leave it at that for the three,” he said.

Verkaik and Harper agreed.

“I know Marques is already on the list, but as per our CAO, he would actually then become highlighted on the list ... along with the other two winners,” Harper said.

As a result, committee of the whole voted in favour of approving the last names for each option and removing Sec. 3.9 of the policy. Recommendations from committee of the whole are subject to approval at the next regular council meeting.

In addition to the rationale for the submission of Froats, Wiebe’s report also included explanations for Marques and Snaper.

Augusto Marques was one of the first Portuguese to arrive in Bradford, and sponsored other family members to come to Canada, where he sheltered and fed them, and would help them get settled with work and accommodations. He also helped sponsor the first Portuguese club in Bradford in 1973, according to the report.

The Snaper Family has been involved in the Town of Bradford since 1991. Barry Snaper purchased the 80-year-old grain factory at 121 Bridge St. and since then has helped numerous tenants grow successful businesses, including Delf’s Martial Arts, a staple in the community for more than 30 years, according to the report.

With files from BradfordToday staff

Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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