The Park Controversy

I was going to write a post complaining about all the fuss being made over the simple renaming of a street.

But I stopped and thought a bit.

How would I feel if the London Mayor suggested renaming Piccadilly Circus or Pall Mall? How would a New Yorker react to the suggestion of changing Madison Avenue? How many film stars would be adding their names to petitions if Hollywood Boulevard was about to be renamed?

The only reason the Park change is a non-issue for me is that I’m still a relative foreigner in this city. I don’t know the significance of Park Avenue so the name has no emotional attachment for me.

So I decided not to write the post after all. Wait. Damn.

6 thoughts on “The Park Controversy”

  1. Where I live (a little north of Toronto) a retiring Mayor was given the honour of having a street (upon which the new town hall was scheduled to be built) named after him. Several years later, said former Mayor came out of retirement, and successfully ran for a town council seat. The sitting council decided (in an in camera meeting) that having the street address of town hall named after him was an unfair campaign advantage, and so went to the trouble of having the town hall parking lot entrance declared a street, and changing the town hall address from 100 John West Way to 1 Municipal Drive. After all that, the gentleman in question will not be running for re-election due to health concerns. And a poor old man who has served his home town faithfully for decades will go into his declining years having had his greatest honour taken from him by a bunch of petty, squabbling, little old ladies (of both the male and female persuasion).

    We’re hoping the new council we elect next month will decide to run the town instead.

  2. It is of good importance.

    Park Extension is named after that street.
    I do not count the number of shops named after that street
    The biggest parks in Montreal are near, with the sole exception of Lafontaine.
    It has multiple different cultural communities that are attached to that street.

    I do understand why it has been renamed for the lowest part, as it’s downtown and not Park Extension anymore.

    Like it was said in Journal de Montréal I read at my diner a few days ago, “I’d wish they would put more money on repairing the street and less on changing its name”. I agree.

  3. I think one of the biggest beefs people have with the change is the autocratic and basically arbitrary way Mayor Tremblay decided to make this change. He was a cabinet minister in Robert Bourassa’s government so there’s a perception that he’s taking a major thoroughfare in Montreal and sticking his friend and former boss’s name on it, without any public consultation.

    I think that’s partially the issue – they didn’t ask anyone. The other part of it is the question of why is there such a need to name streets after dead politicians, particularly if said politician wasn’t a particularly well-loved premier. I’d be a little miffed, too if the street my family has called home for years was suddenly named after some guy I never voted for or even liked.

    And if you’re a business changing all your signage and mailing info is just big pain, as well.

  4. They’re re-naming the street right, not ripping it up. :) I imagine the different cultural communities attached to that street will continue to be so if the name is changed. I do agree that changing signage and promotional material could be costly and annoying for some people but truly the fact that it would cause confusion with Boulevard Henri Bourassa seems a more practical point.

    Politically speaking (despite Tremblay’s relationship with Robert Bourassa) it seems clear that Bourassa was a major political figure in the establishing of contemporary Québec. So, it’s not irrational to expect that a street might be named after him sooner or later (Park seems like a good choice since the name appears to be generic and meaningless). I imagine the need to re-name streets after politicians goes hand in hand with the need to establish that a cultural revolution did indeed occur in Québec. Is that wrong?

    As far as offensive jingoist statements it seems to pale in comparison to something like the many statues, schools and streets named after Governor Edward Cornwallis in Nova Scotia. Here’s a man who offered bounties for the scalps of Micmac men, women and children effectively promoting their genocide and moved to deport the Acadians (genocide with fewer graveyards), yet the notion of removing his glorification from government-funded buildings is considered absolutely out of the question due to his historical significance.

    Someone pointed out that despite being the architect of Québec’s language laws Bourassa also pressed for a state of emergency to be declared during the October Crisis, which brought the military into Montreal. So y’know, even I have my reasons to seriously despise him (I was born downtown during the crisis itself) and yet, I can still appreciate why it might be important to name a street after him. Can’t everyone agree on their mutual hatred of him and just settle for his historical significance?

    Personally, I want to petition for Park Street to be re-named “Avenue Cordélia Viau” instead (an early symbol of female oppression and injustice against women in Québec’s darker more Catholic days). Far too many of these street names are going to charisma-challenged and completely un-inspiring male political figures.

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