British Columbia

Changing controversial street names will be costly, warns Port Alberni non-profit

Port Alberni is considering changing two street names — including one named for an Indian agent who supported Japanese internment — but a non-profit that works with vulnerable children says that would hurt their bottom line.

Kiwanis Hilton Childrens' Centre is on street named for Indian agent, Japanese internment supporter

Kiwanis Hilton Childrens' Centre has an office on Neill Street. The name of that street could change and that change could cost the non-profit up to $15,000. (Google Earth)

A Port Alberni non-profit that works with children says proposed name changes to two streets in town could cost them over $10,000.

Port Alberni Coun. Chris Alemany believes the names Indian Avenue and Neill Street — named for A.W. Neill, who was an Indian agent, mayor, MP and strong supporter of Japanese internment — do not fit with the current spirit of reconciliation and has proposed changing them

Kiwanis Hilton Childrens' Centre has an office on Neill Street and executive director Susan Fox says a street name change would cost them between $13,000 and $15,000 in legal fees and paperwork.

"We have several organizations here that deal with mental health for children and special needs therapy. We have a lot of health records and our scope of service is really large," Fox told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"Our catchment area also includes Tofino, Ucluelet and other communities on the west coast," she said.

Fox says the costs would add up from lawyers' fees and re-filing with B.C. Societies, the CRA and numerous licensing bodies. It also means re-doing numerous contracts and grants.

"In all respects it's like a physical move even though you wouldn't be physically moving anything."

Another street name that could change is Indian Avenue. A school, A.W. Neill Elementary, could also have its name changed. (Google Earth)

"And then there's a delay in processing and with the way government works, on a good day, four to six weeks would be what we're looking at, and on a bad day, that could be up to 12 weeks," she said.

"That would be where we'd have an interruption of revenue, up to $38,000 per month, which is not something we'd typically be able handle."

Fox says she's not taking a position on the appropriateness of the name change itself but says the city should help with their address change costs if the change is approved.

When asked for his response, Coun. Alemany said he had no comment as the name change motion would be debated on Monday.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Port Alberni non-profit says changing controversial street names will cost them