Many West Carleton residents believe the city’s street renaming process is flawed.
A new name needs to be chosen for Second Line Road in West Carleton – because the name also exists in Osgoode and Rideau-Goulbourn – to lessen confusion for 911 responders, said the city. Rideau-Goulbourn is the only ward able to keep its succession of First Line through Fourth Line roads.
But the process has been delivered with frustration and unanswered questions, said resident Cathy Seymour, such as why a former Kanata mayor’s name was chosen for a street in West Carleton. She added there doesn’t seem to be a consistent process for the city when vetting potential new names.
Close to 40 people attended a March Rural Community Association meeting on Feb. 13 to discuss the issue.
“We can prevent another community from going through this,” said association president Judy Makin. “We can come up with some suggestions to the city (to make the process easier).”
Those living along West Carleton’s Second Line Road were first issued a letter from the city on Nov. 21 saying the street name would be changed to Des Adam Road – after the former alderman for rural March and the former mayor of Kanata – and they had until Dec. 5 to make comments.
Many said the new name was unacceptable as the man had no connection to the area and didn’t reflect the heritage of the community.
A letter hand-delivered to those living on Second Line said “We have nothing against Des Adam personally; however we feel the re-naming should replicate this area and/or its long-time residents.”
Seventy-seven per cent of those living on the road – which includes almost 60 residences – signed a petition against the proposed name.
With no guidance from the city, a group of residents began collecting potential road names.
“We collected names from residents up until Nov. 29, having no guidance from the city on the protocols of renaming a street,” said resident Trudy Davis. “Not knowing what to do, we took the course of action asking residents to submit alternate names; we would vote on them and provide that list to the city.”
The top five names were Carroll Crossing, Old Second Line Road, March Second Line, Second Line Road March and Whiskey Town Road.
The city only agreed with Whiskey Town, saying the others are too similar-sounding to street names elsewhere. But on Feb. 11, the previously failed option of Old Second Line Road was added after residents petitioned area councillor Eli El-Chantiry and city staff to add it to the list of potential names.
Second Line is a meaningful name in West Carleton, having been around since the 1820s. If the street moniker has to be changed, the option of Old Second Line Road should be available, said Seymour.
The city originally declined that name option because too many streets begin with “Old” and it’s an appendage reserved for “historically significant” routes, according to staff.
Those residents who already cast their vote by email were asked to re-submit their top choice by Feb. 19 and those without email were asked to have their paper ballot in by Feb. 26.
El-Chantiry agreed with residents, saying the process is faulty and must be fixed.
“We should have a process better than this process,” he said, adding the city will go with whatever choice the majority of residents vote for as the top choice.
Since amalgamation, the city has been doing away with duplicate and similar road names to lessen confusion for 911 responders.
Seymour and Ann O’Connell spoke with an Ottawa police officer who said emergency services can tell “exactly where you are” when calling from a landline and that it takes less than five minutes to triangulate someone’s location when calling from a cell phone.
The only instance where confusion may arise is when someone calls with only the street name and no civic address. In that case, 911 will dispatch emergency vehicles to all duplicate streets.
“That is admittedly a waste of time (and) money,” said Seymour.
She added requests to the city to provide 911 statistics that warrant changes to duplicate and similar sounding street names have not been answered.
One resident spoke up and said confusion over a street name may have led to her husband’s death after he suffered a heart attack. Emergency crews went the wrong way and weren’t able to respond fast enough to save him.
“I know you may be upset about (the name change) but it may save someone’s life,” she said before leaving the hall.