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What’s in a name? New Brunswick community starts search for new one

Click to play video: 'Community of Grand Bay-Westfield considers name change' Community of Grand Bay-Westfield considers name change
Many New Brunswick communities are continuing to sort through the amalgamation process initiated by local governance reform. For the community of Grand Bay-Westfield, it’s looking at potentially renaming. As Travis Fortnum tells us, the idea’s getting mixed reviews – Mar 3, 2022

Ask a resident of the New Brunswick town of Grand Bay-Westfield or local service district (LSD) of Westfield West where they live and they might not know how to answer these days.

The communities have been forced to amalgamate through the province’s local governance reform process, forming what’s known officially as Entity 51 — which can’t remain the name, thus launching a renaming process.

READ MORE: Mixed feelings surround ongoing local governance reform process in New Brunswick

“This is a great opportunity for the town,” says Jon Taylor, who now chairs the Naming Committee for Entity 51.

The committee will guide the community through the process that will result in a name, starting with opening submissions next week.

Residents will be able to make suggestions through March 28, after when the committee will narrow it down to five options to be voted on through ranked ballot in April.

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“It’s up to the people of the town now, and the neighbouring community to put in their ideas,” Taylor says.

Grand Bay-Westfield resident Jon Taylor was named Chair of the Naming Committee for Entity 51 on Wednesday night. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Statistics Canada reported in 2016 that Grand Bay-Westfield’s population sat at 4,964.

The chunk of the LSD merging with the town is home to about 1,000 people.

Citing the imbalance, there is a vocal number of people who want this process to see the Grand Bay-Westfield name extended to Entity 51.

But seemingly just as many want something new.

“Everybody’s going to be able to have their voice heard,” Taylor says.

What do residents think?

Rebekah Bass has called Grand Bay-Westfield home for coming on four years.

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A small business owner, she says changing the name is going to be more trouble than it’s worth.

“I’ll have to change my massage therapist licence and my business cards,” she says.

“And everyone, not just me, will need to go to Service NB to change their driver’s licence and change their passport… who wants to do all that?”

READ MORE: N.B. bakery owner scrambling to stay in community as rent skyrockets

She says she also worries about the costs associated with changing signage throughout the community and who is fronting all these costs at the end of the day.

Bass says taxes are already too high.

She’s also six months pregnant, and is now unsure what her baby will call their hometown.

“I want to raise my baby in Grand Bay,” she says.

6-months pregnant, Rebekah Bass says she wants her baby to grow up in Grand Bay. Travis Fortnum

Outside the local Tim Hortons, other residents feel just as strongly about their opinion.

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“There’s nothing wrong with Grand Bay-Westfield,” says Barry Murchison, who’s lived in the area for 50 years.

“I’m afraid they’re going to use some kind of oddball name,” he says.

Down the street, outside Home Hardware, Patricia Sellers sees the other side.

“I’m not opposed to it,” she says, “but my concerns are the same as everyone else in terms of costs associated.”

“I think it’s a good opportunity to bring all the community together as one, under one name,” she says.

Melissa Lee is one of the residents of the smaller community brought into Entity 51 — known on paper as Westfield West, but locals actually call it Nerepis. She’s not happy about any of this.

“People move to where they live for a reason,” says Lee.

“I think they should’ve left it the way it is.”

Bass says she sees where folks like Lee who live in the LSD are coming from, their hometown tacked onto Grand Bay-Westfield — those residents will end up with a new community name even if Bass gets her way.

“I do feel for them,” she says, “but at the same time just why should everyone suffer because they have to suffer?”

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The opinions of all are valid in Taylor’s eyes.

“I’m glad to see people excited about it,” he says.

Residents of the community now known as Entity 51 will be able to vote on a new name in April. Travis Fortnum / Global News

“I have seen a lot of passion online and in person, so we’re really hoping everybody can submit a name and have their vote and feel like they’ve had their voice heard,” Taylor says.

Taylor says the submission process for potential names will be pushed to the public sometime next week, between March 7-11.

Reccomending residents keep an eye on Entity51.ca for that and any relevant information to come.

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