Regina committee postpones decision on new civic naming guidelines

The Regina Planning Commission has suspended its decision regarding a motion to implement changes on how names of public places are chosen.

Proposal includes upping number of places with Indigenous names

The Regina Planning Commission discussed proposed new guidelines for renaming public parks, buildings, roads and other public places on Wednesday. (Cory Coleman/CBC)

A proposal to implement new guidelines for naming roads, parks and other public places in Regina has been postponed until November.

The Regina Planning Commission decided to halt their decision after almost two hours of discussion during Wednesday's meeting.

Among the proposed guidelines are prohibiting names that sound alike, establishing circumstances in which renaming a street or park is allowed, and to prioritize the use of backlog names on an already approved list. 

However, the proposed guideline that got the most attention was to dedicate 25 per cent of streets and 50 per cent of parks to Indigenous-based names.

According to city officials, less than one per cent of street names in Regina currently have an Indigenous origin.

The guideline is aimed at improving diversity and reconciliation, which nearly all councillors openly supported.

"This is a big deal," said city councillor Mike O'Donnell of the importance of the decision to potentially change street naming guidelines.

Majority of council voted in favour of the motion, including Counsellor Mike O’Donnell. (CBC)

Coun. Bob Hawkins echoed O'Donnell, as did many of their peers.

Hawkins made a recommendation to replace the quota with a commitment to give a "significant" number of streets and parks Indigenous names, saying a quota could cause future complications.

His recommendation was tabled, as was the entire motion.

The commission requested a supplementary report and will revisit the matter on Nov. 7. If approved, it will move to city council for a final decision.

Proposal to rename park

On the same day as the meeting, an event was held in Regina to raise awareness around a proposal to rename Dewdney Park to Buffalo Meadows.

"To honour a true reflection of our history and how we contributed to the development of not just Regina, but Saskatchewan, we need reflection of our history, and that's buffalo," said Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway, co-organizer of the event.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway has been working to rename Dewdney Avenue and Dewdney Park. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

Dewdney Avenue and Dewdney Park are named after Edgar Dewdney, a late-19th-century Indian commissioner and lieutenant governor who selected Regina as the capital of the Northwest Territories in 1882, before Saskatchewan was created as a province.

He was also instrumental in setting up Canada's reserve system and used the distribution of rations, following the rapid disappearance of buffalo, as a device to force Indigenous people to settle on reserves and send their children to mission schools.

"The name has to go," said Sue Deranger, another co-host.

"Let's walk together in honour, in respect, and not represent something that ugly."

Sue Deranger is helping with a proposal to rename Dewdney Park to Buffalo Meadows. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

BigEagle-Kequahtooway said she, along with others, are working on a formal proposal for the City of Regina regarding the name change.

BigEagle-Kequahtooway has also been outspoken on renaming Dewdney Avenue to Buffalo Avenue and says she has been in contact with city officials.