GANDER, NL – Gander councillor Rob Anstey believes the town should honour its own when it comes to naming streets.
Since its inception – aside from a few exceptions – the Town of Gander has dedicated street names to aviators, but Anstey feels a change is needed.
While some streets include the name of residents attached to the town’s history and aviation, it was noted at Wednesday’s meeting of council that several Gander residents who have played a significant role in the development and growth of the community don’t meet the signage regulations because there is no connection as an aviator.
As a way to honour prominent citizens, the possibility of developing policy for naming private driveways was brought forward.
To do this, three options were presented: establishing a separate stand-alone policy for naming private driveways, amending the current "naming of building and facilities policy,” or changing the town's street naming policy to accommodate private driveways.
While it was felt further discussion was needed, Anstey didn’t hold back.
“The town, being 60 years old – we have our own history behind us and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t start naming streets after prominent people in this town,” he said.
“If you’re a prominent person of Gander and we’re going to name something after them, why wouldn’t you pick an actual street (instead) of just a lane.”
While he understands the town’s history of naming streets after aviators, Anstey said it’s an honour that is now bestowed on those who have no connection to Gander.
“We are picking pilots from every other country in the world just for the sake of having airline pilots on the street signs,” he said. “I think the time has come to have a hard look at this and start honouring the people who built this town.”
Councillor Gina Brown, chair of council’s development, tourism and cultural committee, noted the current street naming policy does not include any way to honour residents who were not aviators when naming streets. The idea of an amendment to include private driveways within the existing policy would enable recognition of prominent citizens without going against the current policy.
“It wasn’t necessarily to look at minimizing (citizen) contributions by placing their name on a laneway, but a way to honour them within the existing system,” she said.
“Whether or not we can look at changing the street naming (policy) or whether there is potential to coincide and keep both systems going at the same time…is something that needs to be looked at with further discussion.”
A brief history behind a few street names
Named after Edgar Baird, who first arrived in Gander in 1948. The Newfoundland-born pilot is considered the pioneer in using aircraft to combat forest fires in the province. Baird was instrumental in lobbying for a permanent town and later established businesses in Gander.
Named after Jim Roe of Kingston Ontario, who first arrived in Gander in 1956 as an air traffic controller trainee. Later that same year, the former Royal Canadian Air Force member would go on to fly for Eastern Provincial Airways. He would fly with the company until 1961, after succumbing to injuries sustained while landing a plane that had experienced a cockpit fire in Greenland. The heroic act saved the lives of five people.
Named after General Italo Balbo, who is perhaps best known in Newfoundland and Labrador for landing his Italian Air Armada in Random Sound, Shoal Harbour and Clarenville, while en route from Italy to Chicago in 1933.
Other Gander street names and the history behind them can be found here.