Penticton street name change runs into roadblock

Councillors admit confusion with process to rename section of road Backstreet Boulevard

It’s hard to blame the members of Penticton city council who admitted to being confused about the ongoing name change for a short section of Westminster Avenue East.

The proposition to change the name of Westminster Avenue East, and a portion of Robinson Street between Front and Wade, to Backstreet Boulevard came before council on May 6, the first of three times, so far. It was denied that time, then carried unanimously on a second visit. Now that approval has been rescinded after advice from the city’s corporate officer, Dana Schmidt.

“The city doesn’t have a formal policy but our staff has found a resolution from 2003 that states that road name changes be done by bylaw. That wasn’t done in this case,” said Schmidt, who recommended that the May 21 resolutions be rescinded and the entire matter referred back to staff to go through a formal process.

Is your head spinning? You’re in good company, because so were Couns. John Vassilaki and Wes Hopkin. At least, they were the two councillors openly admitting they found the matter confusing.

“The first time this proposal came forward it was defeated. Notices were given to property owners the first time. Then it found its way back to council,” said Vassilaki. “I am really confused, now it is coming back again. We’re going round in circles here.”

“What exactly did we do wrong with the previous process? Because I think there is some confusion,” asked Hopkin.

Schmidt responded that while the recommendation did go to the heritage committee, as expected, property owners had not been officially notified in advance and the name change wasn’t done by bylaw as specified in the 2003 resolution.

However, the property owners had done their own petition, which included signatures from five of the businesses along the sparsely populated street.

“I understand the protocol, but I believe the protocol had been observed with the petition that came through the heritage committee,” said Coun. Judy Sentes. “We’ve moved something forward and now we are backing it up. I am really concerned about the businesses that are caught in the waffling back and forth.”

So the property owners and businesses along the short stretch of street will have to wait a while longer for their street name change. With the exception of Sentes, council voted to rescind their former approval and send the matter back to staff, who have also been instructed to prepare a formal street name policy to avoid future confusion.