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Mayor: Powell River did ‘lousy job’ on name change process

The mayor of Powell River says the city did a “lousy job” of rolling out a community feedback plan on possibly changing the city’s name and “it looked horrible.”

Dave Formosa apologized Thursday night as council discussed sending delegations to the Possible Name Change Joint Working Group instead of having residents air their opinions in front of city council.

The rollout has even causing confusion between the working group’s two council members – Maggie Hathaway and Cindy Elliott – who had differing interpretations on whether people could speak.

“We did a lousy job of communicating the process,” Formosa said. “We’re guilty of that and we all know it as a committee. We’re guilty of it. It was never intended that people can’t speak.”

The mayor says some community members believed the initial survey was the process in a nutshell, like a referendum.

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Formosa said there are two components – an education component going on right now and then a communication component where people will have their say on the name Powell River.

The city is undertaking the process at the request of three governments under the Community Accord as the Tla’amin Nation has asked the city to consider changing its name because it’s associated with a person tied to the Indian residential school system.

The issue has caused tension in the community and Formosa says he’s been able to calm people down by promising them they would have a say.

“The way it rolled out, it didn’t look like that and I admit it. It looked horrible. And I got a lot of calls and I know you did, and I know you did and we all heard about it. We will fix it!” the mayor told fellow councillors.

The situation got so tense Thursday night that Formosa and Coun. Jim Palm had words after the mayor thought Palm accused him of being closed minded because people couldn’t speak at council. Formosa later apologized for snapping at Palm.

City council ended up passing the resolution to send presentations on the possible name change to the joint working group while its holding public meetings.

The Possible Name Change Working Group will meet for an organizational meeting Friday. A final open house online will happen Saturday night.

Coun. Cindy Elliott believes the community engagement sessions will happen in May and possibly be extended into June.

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