by Heather Ramsay–At least 35 people crowded into the Queen Charlotte council chambers on Monday to add a new twist to the debate over renaming the main thoroughfare through town.
The impromptu meeting took place a half an hour before the regular council meeting began and people came to voice their concern about changing the name of the entire road.
Gracie Flanagan, who lives and owns a business on what is now 3rd Avenue, says it took her less than 8 hours to get more than 50 names on a petition voting no to changing the name of 3rd Avenue and Cemetery Road.
If the Highway 33 sections have to be changed, then fine, but why change the name of the road all the way along, she asks.
“Just because it is simpler, is not good enough,” she says.
She says there are 70 businesses and 150 residents who will be affected by the change. She says the change will cost the businesses hours of time to change paperwork, as well as money to change brochures, business cards, forms, letterhead, envelopes, cheques and legal documents.
Ms Flanagan also says the school board would have to change all its paperwork, the hospital and forestry, all at a cost to the tax payer.
“This is not a dictatorship,” she says. “They are just trying to shove it down our throats.”
Ms Flanagan demanded a referendum on the question of changing the name of the entire road.
“They said it was noted. That is not a response,” said Ms Flanagan of council’s reaction.
She says people need to start paying attention to the decisions being made in council.
“I know council had good intentions, but they didn’t take proper time to think it through” she said.
One woman at the meeting said it would minimize the disturbance and costs if the town only changed the name of Highway 33.
She also suggested council should look into reimbursing people on the road for costs incurred.
One man said that the reason people voted to incorporate was to have a say in the decisions of the town. He didn’t feel there had been enough consultation.
Another woman spoke of the potential impact on her business. She said that it has taken her three years to get her legal documents, including her mortgage, changed after a divorce and she is concerned about the timeframe of a new change.
No one at the meeting could quantify the exact expense to the different businesses, but The Observer made a few calls and found out that land title documents use legal descriptions and not residential addresses, BC Assessment would make a mass correction to the addresses, changes to driver’s licenses and many other personal documents are free. The only cost that we could uncover, other than possible reprinting documents, would be $21.59 to change the address of an incorporated company.
A source at the School District office said they do have a stock of letterhead, business cards, envelopes and purchase orders, but these have the post office box address and not the street address.
Most of the people filed out of the room when the regular meeting began just after 7:30pm.
During the public participation at the end of the meeting, one man said if people want to stay informed about decisions being made, why did they leave the meeting.
“They should be at regular meetings,” he said.
Council has put voting forms to rename the road in all mailboxes. Those who do not get junkmail in their mailboxes can pick up a ballot at the village office and at several businesses throughout town.
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