Lunenburg aims for autumn to share results of Cornwallis Street renaming survey

The Town of Lunenburg estimates results of a survey to rename Cornwallis Street should be presented to Town Council in early fall, approximately seven months after the survey ended.

Following recommendations from the Town’s Anti-Racism Special Committee (now defunct and since merged into a regional committee), a motion was moved at the January 10 meeting of Council to approve renaming Cornwallis Street.

The motion directed the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to open a public engagement process and have the results “be presented at the first regularly scheduled Council meeting in March for Council’s consideration.”

The public engagement process constituted a print and online survey open to the public for more than one month, advertised through direct mail to Town residents and through the Town’s online channels.

The survey included nine suggestions for names that came from the Anti-Racism Special Committee and Town Council. Participants had the opportunity to rank their top three choices and optionally submit their own recommendation.

At the Council Meeting on March 14, CAO Jamie Doyle requested an extension to the original timeline, which would have had the survey results shared and discussed at this meeting.

“We are requesting an open-ended timeframe where staff would work diligently and as expeditiously as possible to bring this forward as soon as they can,” said Doyle.

Doyle said more than 300 submissions were received with town staff taking “a lot longer than we thought to go through due to the volume.”

The survey has not been mentioned in any meeting of Town Council or in other public messages from the Town since then.

The Barnacle inquired with the Town of Lunenburg on the week of June 12, 17 weeks after the survey closed, for an update on the Town’s review of the survey results.

“Staff have given a preliminary review to submissions,” writes Michael Best, Communications Manager with the Town of Lunenburg.

In a response to an emailed question on what factors are at play in the Town taking more than 16 weeks so far to review the survey submissions, Best writes, “We used a ranked ballot system which requires quite a bit of data crunching. Several choices were presented to residents and residents were also encouraged to submit their own suggestions.”

“There have been many competing priorities over the last few months including the budget, the upcoming election, the New Heritage Plan and By Law Public Engagement initiative etc.”

Beyond asking for preferences for a new street name, the survey asked for respondents to provide their name and civic address.

The survey also had voluntary fields for respondents to share how they identify themselves culturally and provide any other feedback on their choices.

The Barnacle followed up with Best, asking, “Are there any other factors extending the timeline like any comments that came in through the survey/community consultation process that staff or council are reviewing?”

In response, Best tells The Barnacle the Town’s former Public Engagement Officer “was the lead on organizing this initiative and she resigned in March before we had a chance to compile and review submissions.”

“Their responsibilities have been shared by other staff since then. It really is just a matter of competing priorities,” writes Best.

“If no suggestion wins a majority of first-preference votes, the suggestion with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed suggestion are eliminated, lifting the next-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any suggestion has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a suggestion wins an outright majority.”

“I can’t confirm yet if there is a 50% majority.  We also have to determine residents and non-residents and other factors like that. It’s simply a lot of number crunching and we have to make sure it’s thorough and correct.”

Best notes that Council is scheduled to only meet once in the months of July and August. “We plan to present the survey results to Council in early fall,” he writes.

Suggested names

The Town’s decision to rename Cornwallis Street was based in part on former Governor of Nova Scotia Edward Cornwallis’ “scalping proclamation” bounty in 1749 to anyone who killed Mi’kmaw men, women and children. 

“A fresh look at our history has prompted other municipalities in the province such as Bridgewater, Kentville, Halifax and Sydney to change their Cornwallis Street names in recent years,” wrote the Town in the survey.

The nine suggested options as they appeared in the survey were:

  • E’se’katik (AY-SAY-kateek) Street: Original Mi’kmaw place name for Lunenburg; means “place of clams”.
  • Gta’n (uk-dawn) Street: Mi’kmaw word for “ocean”.
  • Kluscap (gloos-cap) Street: Named for a spiritual figure for Indigenous peoples located in New England states and Atlantic Canada.
  • Matlot (madeuh-lot) Street: Mi’kmaw word for “sailor”.
  • Merligueche Street: Mik’maw word for “whitecaps which topped the waves”; former Acadian place name for Lunenburg.
  • Nitap (knee-dub) Street: Mi’kmaw word for “friend”.
  • Queen Street: Follows the naming convention of the nearby streets (Duke, King, Prince).
  • Reconciliation Street: Named for the National Day of Truth & Reconciliation with Indigenous nations.
  • Samqwan (sam-hwan) Street: The Mi’kmaw word for “water”; selected to represent the street’s connection to the back and front harbours, and the community’s overall ties to water.


4 responses to “Lunenburg aims for autumn to share results of Cornwallis Street renaming survey”

  1. Alison F Strachan

    This is utterly bizarre. I can’t think of any other Town that has had this much trouble with this process. Taxpayers in Lunenburg forked out $25K for the Anti-Racism Cttee last year and again for this upcoming year.

  2. Janet Corkum

    Thank you, Jesse Ward, for bringing us up to date on this.

    Seven months to peruse 300 entries = Wow, mind boggling ! It confirms again that this town is being led by a bunch of money wasting amateurs.

    I wonder why Michael Best failed to mention that another “competing priority” is the time and money they have wasted with their King St. extension and Blockhouse Hill development fiascos.

  3. It is going to be painful changing all of our I.d. I don’t agree with with revisionist history. Leave it, educate, don’t erase. I don’t agree with name changing at all. Please don’t.

  4. Su Rogers

    Don’t know how to edit my response so just adding – there are very few residences (10 maybe) on Cornwallis and it seems we few have to go along with this craze and suffer the consequences – no choice about keeping the name? And it doesn’t mean I don’t understand the historical reference…I don’t agree that everyone has to run around erasing the past – to what end?

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