The process to come up with a name for Kingston’s much-anticipated third bridge is underway.
In a Zoom presentation Monday, the city announced the launch of a naming campaign for the city’s largest infrastructure project, the $180-million bridge that will span the Cataraqui River and serve as a major link with the city’s east end.
In July 2020, Kingston council committed to naming what has long been known as the city’s potential “third crossing” in a way that recognizes past and current contributions of Indigenous communities in the region.
“Within Kingston itself there are several Indigenous cultures and communities who have lived in the territory over thousands of years,” said Melissa Hammell, vice president of First Peoples Group, an Indigenous advisory firm that will be the lead in establishing the bridge’s name.
The city will also be consulting with Alderville First Nation, the Tyendinaga Mohawk Council and members of the local Indigenous community in the naming process.
So far, the slate is blank as far as a list of names goes, and Hammell, while not ruling any idea out, says many Indigenous cultures have a different perspective when it comes to names than western European cultures, which tend to lean toward a person or geographic location.
“Naming something after a community, a theme or something within nature might be the direction that we see this going,” Hammell said.
While a name may be symbolic, Mayor Bryan Paterson, who also took part in the Zoom presentation, says a name can serve as a catalyst to fill gaps in the region’s history beyond its most recent past.
“One of those gaps is a broader understanding of the Indigenous history and heritage of our community and our city,” he said.
The city’s plans to honour Kingston’s Indigenous past will go beyond the bridge’s name.
The city also suggested having Indigenous cultural programming where the bridge touches down on both banks of the river.
“That could be programming, it could be installations. That hasn’t been defined firmly yet, but we know that intent is there,” said Jennifer Campbell, Kingston’s cultural heritage manager.
The broader community will have the opportunity to provide feedback on potential names and naming themes over the summer.
The final decision on the long-awaited bridge’s name will be made this fall. It will then go to council for a vote in either November or December of 2021.