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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  News Edith Street Re-Naming Deferred

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by Doug Harvey
Edith Street ReNaming Deferred

Edith Street Re-Naming

At the Regular Meeting Of Council On Monday, August 27th, 2018 there were two delegations on the agenda to comment on Edith Street Re-Naming. The first was Frank and Nancy Prothero that had some comments unprinted due to the sensitive nature of the content, and the second was Pam Hill who also provided a petition with 44 signatures that were opposed to changing the Edith Street name. Both delegations were heard before any comments, questions, or discussions from Council were taken.

Frank and Nancy Prothero - Edith Street Re-Naming

What is the need?

The proposal to change the name of Edith Street was allegedly prompted by a delay in the arrival of an emergency vehicle at an address on this Mitchell Heights Street. We say allegedly because we know that the desire to change the name to Lombardo Lane was expressed by one of the supporters more than two years before the alleged misdirection. The incident was more the excuse for the proposal than the reason.

It is to be hoped that council has researched this issue and has an answer. We took it upon ourselves to ask an OPP officer with more than 30 years experience and a former Port Stanley volunteer fire fighter and officer with similar experience about the potential for confusion. Both of them were adamant in their denial of any confusion between Edith Street and Edith Cavell Boulevard.

We see more potential for misdirection between East and West Edith Cavell and Upper and Lower Spring Street. Incidentally, the city of London, England has thirteen addresses named Edith Cavell and they have no problems with that.

If it is the case that there was no confusion by the emergency services in attending to a call at an Edith Street address, then we really wonder what we are doing here. If there is no compelling need, why would council even consider changing a street name a hundred years after it was registered? Why would we deduct from the Mitchell legacy, which is an important facet of our history, in order to add to the Lombardo? Are street names destined to become the subject of change at the whim and fancy of residents whose presence on the street is fleeting when measured against the span of a hundred years. If street names are to be decided by those living there, it will only take one person to rename Jamieson Street, and a similar number to change Bartholomew Street.

We find it passing strange that there appears to be no protocol to be followed for naming streets.

The name change would create a need for residents to alter their drivers licence, health card, car insurance, car registration, bank and credit card information, union gas, cable companies and other merchants, employers, magazine subscriptions, personal cheques and stationary, each entailing a bureaucracy of one sort or another and each raising the possibility of confusion about a physical change of location.

All across this land of ours, buildings, streets, parks and monuments named for Sir. John A. Macdonald are being removed or renamed in the interest of political correctness. Some people are disdainful of political correctness but it has its place. We need to recognize the sins of the past and be aware of the damage that was done to those who were persecuted, abused or excluded from the benefits of an open and egalitarian society. Does Guy Lombardo pass the test of political correctness? We are not here to judge him but the question has already been raised of how a leading orchestra could function in the United States of America for fifty years and never once hire a non-white musician. The Roosevelt Hotel, where the Lombardo orchestra played in the winter was tightly segregated, long after the 1954 Brown vs. Maryland that was supposed to end segregation. Jones Beach where they played summer engagements was designed by Robert Moses to exclude non-whites. Some band leaders such as Benny Goodman had the courage to refuse engagements and venues, hotels and restaurants where non-whites were refused service. Some band leaders did not.

The first murder to take place live on radio anywhere in the world was during a Guy Lombardo broadcast. It was a direct result of his association with Prohibition era gangsters in Chicago in the late 1920s.

There are many serious issues to be considered before we drift off into la-la land singing Auld Lang Syne. Some people suffered.

It is not to be supposed that empires will rise or fall on the issue of naming a short street in our community. But, it is not exactly a tempest in a tea pot, either. Nancy and I have lived at 542 George Street, a mere 50 feet from Edith Street for the past 48 years. In spite of the passage of half a century, our house is still referred to locally as the Lombardo House. Two weeks ago, a man from Toronto dropped in to see us. His first comment was, "This used to be the Lombardo House when I was a youngster." The original proposal was to rename Edith Street as Lombardo Lane. When issues were raised concerning that initiative, the proposal retreated to Guy Lombardo Lane. We do not care if you use the name Guy, Carmen, Liebert, Victor or of the uncle, brother, nephew, cousin, father, son or Holy Ghost, you cannot divorce the name Lombardo from the family that lived at 542 George Street and that name carries a lot of baggage.

Let us imagine for a moment that you are sitting on the council of Richmond BC, which has a street with the dreary name of 10th Street. Let us suppose that a relative newcomer to the community comes forward to propose that the street be named after Candice Olson, a star of Canadian television. Would you blindly vote for that name change or would you reflect on the fact that Clifford Olson took one of his victims from that very street, raping and murdering her?

The proposed bylaw quite likely fails the test of political correctness.

It would be very difficult for us to believe that the council of the Municipality of Central Elgin could be so insensitive and mean spirited as to impose the Lombardo name on the street in question.

We think it fails the ultimate test - the test of common decency.

Pam Hill - Edith Street Re-Naming

As 40+ yr family homeowners and 3 generations on Edith St, our original platform from October 23/17 stands, in that the street name should remain unchanged. We request that the Mitchell Heights heritage be preserved. John Mitchell purchased the surrounding lands in 1891, and 90% of his family street names still remain.

There has been no documented information, that Tom and I have knowledge of, to support a name change related to "street name confusion", as petitioned by the other residents of Edith. As per council meeting October 23rd, Mr. Leitch reported to Edith St residents that there was no error with an EMS call between Edith St and Edith Cavell, on Sept 23. EMS were dispatched to the correct address. At a following meeting it was also reported that 2 EMS calls were dispatched simultaneously to Edith St and Edith Cavell on this date. Both were attended to in a timely matter. We believe that the street name change at this point should have been null and void. Port Stanley residents that we have spoken to voice that the confusion lies between Edith Cavell and Edith Cavell West and that the implementation of 911 addresses are a necessity to our growing village. Smaller Lake Erie ports have this vitally important service.

To the residents of Edith who have requested the street name be changed to" Guy Lombardo Lane", please consider paying tribute to Lombardo in one of the new subdivisions streets in Port Stanley. The Lombardo property on Mitchell Heights has no direct relationship to Guy. We believe that Guy Lombardo is well represented in the London area.

Let's save Port Stanley Heritage and Edith Street. Petition attached. We also request that council move forward with the implementation of 911 addresses.

Council's Reactions

Harold Winkworth was first to comment saying that in the beginning he supported this name change because of the statements that were made about issues EMS had locating the right address during an medical emergency incident and of delivery issues to the wrong address. He also asked the Fire Chief if there was any substance to the claims that EMS was sent to the wrong address. The Fire Chief responded stating that as best as he could recall there were two calls that evening in the area, the responders left one crew member at the Edith Street call and proceeded to the other call that happened at the same time. He also said that there was no delays or issues with EMS as he had checked the logs for that evening.

Deputy Mayor Martyn commented that Mr. Prothero has done some research on this and that we did not do a through search other than just some information on the band and that was the suggestion made from four residents on Edith Street. She also said that she had spoken to a person that some concerns of past improprieties and that it was not taken to court, so it was hearsay evidence. We are not a court, we can't decide whether that happened or not, that's why the name was changed from Lombardo Lane to Guy Lombardo Lane.

After a brief discussion it was agreed by Council to bring forward By-law 2290 Renaming Street - Guy Lombardo Lane so a discussion could continue while many people that came to Council for this would not have to wait.

Councillor McNeil commented that it was his opinion that Council has put the health and welfare of residents first and that we did ask for the opinion and help of our Chief Administrator who advised us on policies and procedures on street name changes. He also mentioned the issues with Edith Cavell and Edith Cavell West that happen too often. Four out of five residents on Edith Street are concerned, and when I say "Edith", everyone around me says "Cavell" which indicates room for error. I think that Council has taken it's time, checked policy, done some research, and I admire the research that Mr. Prothero has done, but I don't think that that's entirely applicable here. I think that we should do the right thing here by passing this By-law.

Councillor Carr commented that he was in favour of a name change for the Street but not the name that was picked mainly due to the recent information that came before Council today. He asked for further investigation on the choice of names to be used for this street, and asked that Council revisit this at a future meeting of Council. After a lengthy discussion it was finally agreed upon that this By-law would be deferred to the September 24th, 2018 Council Meeting with the choice of street name being provided by new committee comprised of Deputy Mayor Martyn and Councillor Carr being formed to do research on the name. Councillor Winkworth also asked that if the Fire Chief could go through the emergency response logs to check for any reports of delays relating to address errors and add this to the committee report.

A Motion moved by Councillor Carr and seconded by Councillor Crevits that By-law 2290 be deferred to the regular meeting of Council of Monday, September 24th, 2018; And further that a committee composed of Deputy Mayor Martyn, Councillor Carr and staff consider alternate naming options for the Edith Street Naming. The Motion was Carried.


Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2018 10:39:47 AM EST

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