Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says the province has put in place a process to find names to better reflect 21st century British Columbia and the communities where projects are.
The Pattullo is named after former B.C. Premier Duff Pattullo and the new bridge is expected to be in place by the end of 2024.
The Massey is named after former MLA George Massey and is expected to be replaced with an eight-lane tunnel by 2030.
“It is a new project, it is a new century and it is a new opportunity to consider what we name significant infrastructure projects like this,” Fleming said in an interview.
“In the old days I don’t know how namings were done. They were probably done in cabinet or back rooms like that. We have a public engagement strategy.”
The public engagement strategy will include consulting with the public and stakeholders.
The focus will not be on replacing current names but searching for diversity when finding new names.
Fleming says names will be based on something significant to either the entire province or the specific area where the project is built. If it is named after an individual, the province will look to someone who has made contribution to B.C.
Fleming described potential namesakes as those who have, “been involved in contributing to our province in a recognized way and added value to a modern, diverse and inclusive province that British Columbia is today.”
“The kind of consultation allows us to imagine ourselves as a community that can come together and earnestly learn together,” Fleming said.
“It is that kind of collective history that will make our understanding of British Columbia that much richer.”
The formal process has not yet started but Fleming acknowledged there are significant potential options for the bridge under the Fraser River.
The span used to be called the Deas Island Tunnel, but was changed to the Massey Tunnel after George Massey’s death.
The government has done some preliminary research and discovered Deas Island is named after John Sullivan Deas. It is unclear if the province knew who the island was named after when the name changed in 1967, three year’s after Massey’s death.
Deas was one of the province’s first Black business owners.
He came to Canada in about 1862, and by 1866 he was a manufacturing tinsmith and hardware dealer in Yale, B.C.. He started canning salmon on the lower Fraser River in 1871.
Throughout the early years of development, Deas was the leading canner on the Fraser River. The Deas Island Cannery could boast that for the 1872-73 season it had canned twice as large a pack as any other fishery.
“I think that is a very good suggestion to look at honouring one of the most significant entrepreneurs that create an entire industry and who create significant wealth for the salmon fishing industry,” Fleming said.
Part of the province’s commitment to UNDRIP legislation is working with Indigenous communities to better reflect their culture, language and naming traditions.
Bernard Perley, the head of the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies at UBC, said consultation needs to be designed to welcome in ideas from the community without a pre-determined outcome.
“It is not necessarily a one-approach-for-all situation. I think … being able to understand in different communities it will require different strategies,” Perley said.