The Napier Greenway: The City of Vancouver is Renaming Without Consultation

3 Jul

So, every once in a while, we happen across things that make us shake our heads. What we are about to share is one of those things.  For the last few years we have featured the East Van Garden Tour, which is a fundraiser for Britannia Neighbours who do an amazing job of beautifying and maintaining what we all know as the Napier Greenway. For those who don’t know it, this space is located off Commercial Drive at the entrance to Britannia Community Centre.  This is a great community space created in 2001 by the City and Britannia Neighbours (a group of community volunteers), under the City’s Green Streets Program and which has been lovingly tended to by Britannia Neighbours for the last 18 years.   We have to say we were rather surprised when we stumbled across a letter from Britannia Neighbours to the City of Vancouver about the renaming of this space to Margaret Mitchell Plaza.

For those who may not know the name, Margaret Mitchell was a Vancouver resident, social worker, and activist who was elected to the House of Commons four times to serve the riding of Vancouver East. She was the longest serving female MP when she left in 1993 after 14 years in which she boldly advanced women’s rights.  This is without a doubt someone who is worthy of recognition.

Now, getting back to the Napier Greenway, Britannia Neighbours is a group of local volunteers who started working with the City of Vancouver in 2000 to create the Napier Greenway and has, since its completion in 2001, maintained it.  They have weekly work parties, they rake and weed and prune and plant new plants and move old ones, they clean up graffiti on benches, and do other repairs as needed. They also hire someone from the nearby Kettle Friendship Society to pick up litter daily and hire someone else to water all summer.   This greenway is a gathering space that regularly hosts free community events such as Artful Sundays, the Stone Soup Festival, and activities during Car Free Day and Italian Day.  The Napier Greenway was created and is regularly invigorated by the community that surrounds and cares for it.  With no disrespect to Margaret Mitchell, the renaming of it dismisses and disrespects the hard work this community and its volunteers have put and continue to put into this space.NapierGreenway7

We have learned that there is actually a Naming Committee at the City of Vancouver which makes recommendations about places that need new names; the previous Council, however, made this decision without consulting either Britannia Neighbours or its own Naming Committee. During an in-camera meeting, the previous Council agreed, by a majority vote, without any consultation whatsoever, to rename the Napier Greenway Margaret Mitchell Plaza. The initiative for the new name we understand was led by then Vision Councillor, Andrea Reimer. The ‘without consultation’ is the part that really gets under our skin whether this issue or others that affect the communities they represent. Elected officials serve residents of the City, that includes ALL of us, those that may not have such a public face, but serve their communities tirelessly and don’t get the public recognition they deserve.

The Napier Greenway is a space residents and volunteers are proud of and we feel they have the right to maintain the name.

Margaret Mitchell was a tireless advocate for some of the poorest areas in Vancouver, so we think it is fitting that Vancouver’s second temporary modular housing facility at 2132 Ash Street was named Margaret Mitchell Place. This space creates housing for 52 members, teaches life skills, has health teams and support, and employment programs, as well as a community garden.  We think this new housing facility is a fitting tribute to Margaret Mitchell and is reflective of the work she undertook. The Napier Greenway was created and has been maintained for 18 years by Britannia Neighbours, who may be nameless and faceless, but who are worthy of recognition. All they wish to do is retain the name they created for this community gathering space, Napier Greenway.  We hope the current City Council rights this wrong.

 

One Response to “The Napier Greenway: The City of Vancouver is Renaming Without Consultation”

  1. Bill Lee July 9, 2019 at 11:39 am #

    I remember when the NDP wouldn’t let Margaret Mitchell retire, hoping to keep the federal riding for the NDP.
    She wanted to step down and enjoy life.
    Anna Terrana took Vancouver East for the Liberals.

    Having a naming thing was not her ideal.

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