UXBRIDGE: The process to rename the Kennedy House property will now be turned over to the public, following council's meeting on the morning of Monday, May 13.
Despite initial misgivings from councillors regarding the four potential names for the site put forward by the Kennedy House Renaming Committee - Uxbridge Activity Park, Uxbridge Commons, The Fields of Uxbridge and Uxbridge Activity and Recreation Commons (or short form 'The ARC') - councillors voted by a slim margin to adopt the recommendation in a report by Recreation, Tourism and Culture Manager Amanda Ferraro, and turn the matter over to public voting via the township's web site.
Prior to any discussion on the matter, Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet voiced the opinion that since Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor was absent, discussion on the matter should be tabled for the second consecutive meeting in order to have all council members present.
"This is going to be a council decision so all of council should be here," proposed Councillor Highet.
Ultimately, councillors would decide to proceed with discussion, and the possible names were met with criticism from Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy and Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse, who argued that the submissions lacked any historical references to Uxbridge.
"I don't think that we've looked at historical value, and haven't seen any submissions that speak to that," said Councillor Mikuse.
Councillor Molloy also expressed concern that only 19 possible names were submitted. However, Ms. Ferraro clarified that while the committee only received 19 submissions initially, a second round of submissions pushed the total to between 40 and 50 possible choices.
"Quaker was looked at, but the committee thought it would be confusing," added Ms. Ferraro, who noted that the western portion of Uxbridge is already home to Quaker Hill as well as Quaker Village and Quaker Commons.
Later, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger asked about the inclusion of 'Uxbridge' in every potential name, as it appeared to limit the scope of the choices.
"Why do we have to have to have Uxbridge in there? It makes it tough, why did it come about this way?" inquired Councillor Ballinger.
Ms. Ferraro noted potential corporate sponsorship of facilities at the site as part of the rationale for including 'Uxbridge' in the possible names for the site.
"The committee had a long discussion about that. If you have Uxbridge in the name, it could be confusing," said Ms. Ferraro. "We already have the Rotary Skate Park, and could have the Canadian Tire Aquatic Centre, for instance. And we thought it'd be good to have Uxbridge in the proper name because the facilities might have sponsored names."
However, once the matter of Uxbridge's inclusion in the name was clarified, new reservations were voiced by councillors after it appeared that the guidelines for the naming process had changed without council being notified.
"After we had the first 19 submissions, the CAO (Ingrid Svelnis) joined us and we were directed that the library may end up there so we thought about having culture in the name," explained committee member Brock Clark. "We were guided to have Uxbridge in there and not have a person's name."
Mr. Clark later added that he did suggest using a person's name, but that idea was met with little enthusiasm from other committee members.
Ward 4 Jacob Mantle then proposed widening the pool of possible choices.
"Council set guidelines initially and if those guidelines changed, it should've come back to council," said Councillor Mantle. "Let's see some other names. I like the idea of putting it to a vote, but maybe we can have ten instead of four."
Councillor Molloy would go one step further, and proposed that the public be allowed another opportunity to submit names for the site, which is located at the corner of Main St. North and Ball Rd.
"The names seem clichéd, and I know our community can do better," opined Councillor Molloy. "It's not something that has to be done today, and needs to go back to the public and we need a push to get more submissions with no strings or criteria. This is going to be there for a long time and we need to get it right."
In response, Councillor Highet defended the committee, and the submissions it produced.
"Why have a committee if we're going to override the submissions they came back with? It should be the committee choosing the name, not members of council," said Councillor Highet. "We need to create a name that will be timeless and goes in a new direction. There are a lot of people that have moved to town recently, and have no idea what Kennedy House or former St. John's lands even means."
After a motion from Councillor Molloy to go back to the public for more input was defeated, a motion to approve the four submitted names and post them on the township's web site for public voting was passed with Councillors Ballinger, Highet and Mikuse voting in favour.