Regina's Dewdney Pool to be renamed Buffalo Meadows Pool after unanimous city council vote

A report from city administration said Dewdney was directly responsible for harmful policies towards Indigenous people.

City report said Dewdney was directly responsible for harmful policies towards Indigenous people

Regina's Dewdney Pool is set to be renamed Buffalo Meadows Pool. (Brian Rodgers/CBC)

Dewdney Pool in Regina's North Central neighbourhood is set to be renamed after a unanimous council decision on Wednesday.

A report from city administration said the pool is named after Edgar Dewdney, a historical figure who was "directly responsible for the development and administration of harmful policies toward Indigenous peoples," including establishing and overseeing residential schools.

The discussion was sparked after Decolonizing Relations submitted a petition in July 2020 requesting that the pool, Dewdney Park and Dewdney Avenue be renamed. The renaming of Dewdney Park is set to be considered by the Regina planning commission in a separate report.

Regina's Dewdney Pool will be renamed as Buffalo Meadows Pool. (CBC)

The report on the pool said renaming supports Regina's cultural plan to ensure civic assets celebrate Regina's cultural diversity, tells the whole story of the city and supports the city's efforts toward reconciliation. 

Mayor Sandra Masters told The Morning Edition Thursday that the unanimous vote on the pool's name shows the support. She said the name was fitting for the area. 

"Demographically, we have a large, large contingent of Indigenous descent," Masters said of the neighbourhood. "It seems like the appropriate thing to do."

The North Central Community Association and Central Zone Board were consulted about the change. City administration said they were both supportive. Administration will now work with them, the Regina Treaty Status Indian Services and a local Elder to hold a ceremony to reopen the pool in 2021. 

Renaming the pool will cost about $1,000 to make a new pool sign. City administration said that money will come from the current budget to maintain the pool.

Renaming Dewdney Avenue complicated with land titles: Mayor Masters

The potential renaming of Dewdney Avenue is more complicated. City administration is developing a legacy review process for the request. Masters said renaming Dewdney Avenue could become expensive, as when a street name is changed, the land titles change. 

"Then it's the requirement of all businesses and residents to have to register and address change at land titles," she said. "And that becomes very expensive and onerous."

Dewdney Avenue would be expensive and complicated to rename but consultation is ongoing, Mayor Sandra Masters said on April 1. (Germain Wilson/CBC)

Masters said engagement will determine the best course of action for Dewdney Avenue. She said there may be alternatives, such as how Albert Street was named the Green Mile. 

Masters said that while some people opposed to the changes claim city council is erasing history or that this is cancel culture, that is not the case. 

"In fact, we're trying to tell more of history," Masters said. "Truth and reconciliation isn't about reconciliation alone. It's about the truth. And so understanding all of the history and all the decisions that were made."

No changes for Maple Leaf Pool in Heritage Neighbourhood

In the same report, city administration suggested doing community consultations on the name of Maple Leaf Pool, which is under construction and expected to open in 2021. 

Through consultation, administration would identify a proposed Indigenous name for the pool and park. Coun. Andrew Stevens said this is an opportunity to explore adding more diversity in the names of local civic centres. 

While discussing potentially removing the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in Victoria Park, Stevens said the issue of the city not doing enough consultation came up. 

"We had a pretty extensive debate about public consultation and engaging the community. That's precisely what is being proposed," Stevens said. "If we're sincere about engaging the community, the renaming component of this report allows us to take place."

An artist rendering of the new Maple Leaf Pool, which is expected to be completed in 2021 in the city's Heritage Neighbourhood. (City of Regina)

LeBlanc agreed, saying the Heritage neighbourhood has a high percentage of Indigenous people. 

A good name for a Canadian pool shouldn't be changed just to change.- Coun. Jason Mancinelli

Other councillors disagreed with the idea, including Coun. Jason Mancinelli. He said the name should stay to build Regina's history and heritage.

"A good name for a Canadian pool shouldn't be changed just to change," Mancinelli said. "I think this is a landmark within our city. And I kind of want to build our own city's heritage as we build a heritage of all." 

The idea was defeated, with four councillors in favour and seven against.