Public can affect street names

By Heather Lamb
Navigating in Centretown could become more difficult for motorists in the new year, if 11 duplicated street names are recommended for change by the Ottawa Transition Board.

But getting around should be easier for emergency service personnel who say it would be confusing to have more than one street with the same name.

Don Brousseau, the project leader of a group studying street names, says the 911 management board asked the transition board to recommend changes.

The board is now holding town hall meetings so residents can have a say in which duplicated streets should be renamed and what the new names will be.

“We’ve tried our best to provide names that are reflective of the community,” he says.

The meeting for Ottawa residents east of Bronson Avenue will be held Dec. 12 at regional headquarters, 111 Lisgar St. Residents west of Bronson Avenue meet Dec. 13 at Woodroffe high school, 2410 Georgina Dr.

After the meetings, the board will make final recommendations to the new city council.

The board will consider the number of residents and businesses affected, cost to the city, historical significance and neighbourhood themes, such as tree names, when it decides which streets should be renamed.

But some residents question whether it’s necessary to rename any of the streets.

Jill Rowbottom has lived on James Street for three years and says the city could easily avoid renaming while addressing the concerns of emergency crews.

“The postal code is the identification for where the street is.”

But Carl Martin, spokesperson for the transition board, says using postal codes doesn’t always work. He says the 911 operator must be able to locate an unconscious caller on a cell phone so tying the postal codes to home phone numbers wouldn’t work.

Martin says the board spent several months studying alternatives to renaming streets, but that emergency services preferred renaming as the most effective option.

“Believe me, they have looked at all the possibilities,” he says.

However, Rowbottom says streets are named for a reason and should stay the same.

“I don’t think they were just drawn willy-nilly out of a hat,” says Rowbottom, though she admits she doesn’t have any particular attachment to the name James.

George Hartsgrove, a partner at the Rideau View Inn on Frank Street, says a name change would be an inconvenience, but “not the end of the world.” He says his mail could be delayed and he’ll have to make an adjustment when giving directions.