NEPEAN - A proposal to change the Bells Corners strip from Richmond/Robertson Road
to Lloyd Francis Boulevard
was approved by council on April 13 despite some last-minute protests from
concerned community members and businesses.
The name change, part of College Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s
election platform is aimed at reducing confusion and safety issues in the area.
continues westbound past Baseline
Road for about a kilometre, and then takes a sharp
left southbound for the Village
of Richmond. Drivers
continuing straight suddenly find themselves on Robertson Road.
But long-time Bells Corners resident Sharon Navin said she
feels that robbing one family of their commemoration isn’t the way to solve the
“It’s nothing that couldn’t be fixed by putting some well
placed signage at Al’s Steakhouse and other places,” she said. “I feel like it
pits one family against the other. If I was a descendant of Mr. Francis’s I
wouldn’t feel honoured because it takes away from someone else.”
Lloyd Francis was a Liberal member of parliament, speaker of
the House of Commons and a local developer.
His son, Paul Francis, said that his father helped to build
nearly 80 per cent of modern Bells Corners.
John Robertson helped build the first eight locks of the Rideau Canal and then established a farm, general store
and schoolhouse in what is now Bells Corners.
“I think it is a great way to commemorate my father,” Francis
said, adding that old Richmond
Lane could be re-named to honour Robertson.
Francis said he was surprised by the opposition and that he thought it would be safer for emergency and police vehicles to have one
name identifying the road from Baseline to Eagleson roads.
“Not more than a day or two goes by that I don’t get someone
in my store asking for directions,” Elizabeth Montsko, owner of Sew For It on Moodie Drive, said.
“And there are a lot of problems with GPS sending people to Richmond Road addresses in Westboro.”
While Montsko said doesn’t know if re-naming the road is the
perfect solution, she said she has been aware of the issue for about a year.
“It was reported in the media about a year ago,” she said. “So
I think most businesses would have had the opportunity to have information
Montsko, a member of the Bells Corners Business Improvement
Area (BIA) said the item was presented at their annual general meeting.
“We were told parts were to be re-named and they
(Chiarelli’s office) had gone to the Nepean
Museum for options,”
Montsko said. “We new it was going to planning committee.”
BIA executive director Alex Lewis said that there was very
little input on the name change following the annual general meeting in
“We support the name change,” he said.
Lewis, who used to work in Chiarelli’s office, was one of
the staff who went out knocking on the doors of the affected businesses to hand
out a survey.
Of 194 surveys, there were 38 respondents, of those, 34 were
in favour of the change.
“That’s actually a pretty high number considering a lot of
people who didn’t have any objections would simply not fill out the survey,”
Chiarelli said, adding that the city could have mailed out the survey, but his
office felt they would get more respondents if they were hand delivered.
But some still feel left out in the cold.
Darren Sproule, general manager for Graham Nissan on
Robertson, said that he doesn’t remember anyone at the dealership receiving the
survey and doesn’t see it as a positive thing.
“I don’t see how changing the name of the road will re-brand
Bells Corners,” he said. “It’s not a positive thing for anyone. I don’t want to
think about how much it will cost for all the new materials we will have to buy
to change the address — bills of sale, business cards, all kinds of stuff.”
Zola’s Restaurant owner Tony Vacchio also said he doesn’t
remember receiving a survey and was shocked on April 12 when he received a call
asking him his opinion on the change.
“I may have heard something about it, but I didn’t think it
would come to fruition because it is such a silly idea,” he said.
Vacchio said Zola’s has been in the area for 25 years and
was really hard hit after the Nortel crash. He agrees something needs to be
done to revitalize Bells Corners as people in Barrhaven and Kanata no longer have to go there to shop.
“We are constantly re-inventing ourselves. We serve a
breakfast now that we never did before,” he said.
As for the address change, Vacchio said that there would be
some cost, but changes to the website would be fairly simple.
“I guess everyone will get used to it eventually,” he said.
“Maybe we could have a compromise and call it Lloyd Robertson.”
Normally the naming of a street is left up to the city’s
commemorative naming committee, of which Chiarelli is a member, but he said it
is common practice in the re-naming of a street that the concerned parties come
up with options.
“We wanted to make sure the name we chose had a Bells
Corners focus,” he said.
Chiarelli also added the reason the item moved so quickly
from planning committee to council was because of the public consultation
period for the re-naming of a section of the street through Lynwood Village
to Old Richmond Road.
“To have that process work, it had to be tied to an approved
motion for the Lloyd Francis
Boulevard,” Chiarelli said.
For business owners and residents like Craig MacAulay of Lynwood Village, there is no questioning that
Francis should be honoured, only that they felt the community wasn’t consulted.
“They (city staff) said the community associations were
behind them, but Lynwood Village Community Association barely exists now and I
doubt the Bellwood Mobile Home owners association was consulted,” he said,
adding that surveys sent out to businesses don’t seem like the proper amount of
“I don’t know what exactly would be the right way and I am
not suggesting spending a lot of tax dollars, but I talked to a lot of people
who weren’t aware of the change,” he said.
But family and friends of Francis are positive about the
Bill Teron, who partnered with Francis to build homes in
what is now Lynwood Village, said that he changed the way housing was
done in Ottawa
and should be recognized for that.
“I know people are resistant to change, but people like Dick
Bell, Andy Haydon and D. Aubrey Moodie have had their accomplishments honoured
for 50 years,” Teron said. “Lloyd Francis hasn’t had that, I think to encourage
young idealists like him, we have to show them how we honour people who helped
to shape the community.”