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Heritage Calgary renaming document covers a ‘difficult and inevitable’ process

Heritage Calgary has come up with a comprehensive guide to help city groups navigate the structure naming and renaming process.

Calgary has had a handful of buildings and structures renamed in recent years, most notably those connected to Hector Langevin. Both the Langevin Bridge (Reconciliation) and Langevin School (Riverside) were renamed.

The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) is currently putting together a name review committee for Sir John A. Macdonald junior high school.

Heritage Calgary presented its document, the Naming, Renaming, Commemoration and Removal (NRCR) Handbook, to the city’s Executive Committee earlier this week. It came through a council innovation fund request in February 2021.

“The questions surrounding naming and renaming are difficult and inevitable and all circle around an old age quandary – what is in a name,” said Heritage Calgary CEO, Josh Traptow.

More than 500 Calgarians were a part of the report engagement, which guides organizations through a potential (NRCR) process. It led to a set of key priorities when communities are undertaking this process.

Coun. Courtney Walcott was appreciative of the work.

“I know from my life, my previous life as a teacher, this is a subject matter that is pretty sensitive and very challenging to actually have nuanced conversations,” he said.

Walcott asked if the CBE took part in the collaboration. Traptow said CBE participated in the stakeholder engagement but did not review the final principles and procedures.  They’d indicated they had their own policies, Traptow said.

Engaging other cultural communities

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said asked how this document would relate to the current Tomorrow’s Chinatown plan or other future cultural plans.

Traptow said they want to make sure this document is embedded into future cultural plans.

“I think looking at the work that the reimagine Chinatown has done on the renaming of James Short Park, they really have followed the principles laid out in here without even knowing what the principles were,” Traptow said.

Wong followed up and asked how the city would be using this document. City admin said it would take further time to process the document and review the next steps.

Traptow said working with the city through the document was going to be a process.

“This, I think, is really the beginning of a naming process and that there are going to be city policies and procedures that are going to need to be changed, but also developed and really making sure that this process works for everyone,” Traptow said.

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