RMWB council approves motion to consider naming assets after current, former leaders

Councillor Lance Bussieres proposed the motion following the passing of Guy Boutilier, who had a 28-year political career that included roles as councillor, mayor and MLA.

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Council has ordered administration to look at naming municipal assets after current and former elected officials. The motion, which passed unanimously, builds upon existing policies for naming streets and facilities after citizens that have made major contributions to Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

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Councillor Lance Bussieres proposed the motion following the passing of Guy Boutilier, who had a 28-year political career that included roles as councillor, mayor and MLA.

“I don’t know how you measure it. Do you measure someone’s got to serve 15 years, 20 years, three terms, four terms? I don’t know, but hopefully, you know, we can bring something back,” said Bussieres. “I guess it’s just to do something sooner than later.”

Bussieres wondered about naming the Willow Square Continuing Care Centre after Boutilier and local seniors’ advocate Dave McNeely. He also mentioned naming the Birchwood Trails after former councillor Phil Meagher and the Anzac Recreation Centre after Councillor Jane Stroud. He also felt something should be named after former mayor Melissa Blake.

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The idea excited councillors. Councillor Keith McGrath mentioned Bussieres late father, Gerald, who served as manager of the City of Fort McMurray and a passionate volunteer with the Fort McMurray Heritage Society. McGrath also mentioned former councillor Jim Carberry.

Councillor Shafiq Dogar agreed something should be named after Boutilier, and also suggested businesswoman and historian Frances Jean. Dogar also suggested former fire chief Darby Allen. This is unlikely to happen after it was revealed he was fired from the Calgary Fire Department in 2002 for allegedly sexually harassing an employee.

Councillor Allan Grandison wondered if the motion was redundant since a naming committee already exists. MacDonald Island Park has a memorial and road named after former mayor Chuck Knight. Ron Morgan Park in Thickwood is named after a man who spent 30 years as councillor for the former City of Fort McMurray.

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“I believe that the process that exists right now allows for an equitable fairness. My concern with something like this is then, all of a sudden, we start getting everything named after politicians… there are a lot of other very reputable people within our community,” he said.

“The process we have right now allows an appropriate consideration for all all people who are nominated.”

Bussieres said officials were removed for consideration by the naming committee in June 2022. Amanda Haitas, the RMWB’s senior manager of planning and development, told council officials who had made “a significant contribution to the community” would be considered by the committee.

Councillors Kendrick Cardinal and Loretta Waquan wanted the motion to include First Nation chiefs, presidents of Métis communities and other Indigenous leaders. Bussieres said he had no issues with this idea and meant to include it in the spirit of the motion. Cardinal wanted the motion to specifically mention First Nation and Métis leaders would be included.

Council accepted this amendment and the motion unanimously.

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