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Good Cop: Time for a municipal name change?

WhatÕs in a name? Apparently quite a bit if you ask the fine folks that attended the Community Image Summit at Keyano College.

Thing is, I agree with them. At most, the Regional Muncipality of Wood Buffalo should undergo a name change as soon as possible and at the least, itÕs something that should be seriously considered by the community.

I'll cut to the chase: Why not call it the Regional Municipality of McMurray? You get the sense the current name was an attempt in the mid-1990s to Òre-brandÓ the area and recognize the regional character of the Municipality. As in ÒweÕre not just Fort Mac,Ó but really, the only way to achieve this is to actually do things that make it so the name doesnÕt matter.

To me, calling our region Wood Buffalo fails us on two fronts: It says were not confident about who we really are, which is Fort McMurray surrounded by some unique and distinct communities comprising this great Nothern region. Secondly, it ignores our true history: We were called McMurray in the first place.

Face it, the only ÒFortÓ we have left is the one the kids down the street have made out of all the snow we have by the time December rolls around. Did you know Edmonton was once Fort Edmonton? They sensibly moved on and so should we, not that following in EdmontonÕs footsteps should be a priority per se.

I know that people will always call it ÒFort MacÓ or scoff at the notion that a name matters. If thatÕs the case, then why was it ever changed? LetÕs return to our roots and call our community McMurray and with it our region the Regional Muncipality of McMurray.

Bad Cop: Time for a municipal name change?

What's in a name? A lot to be played with, apparently. Western society loves its slang, and we certainly have at it with our creative license over the English language every day.

Sometimes it's our environment, sometimes it's our passion for change, and sometimes it's just plain laziness.

I was known as Benjamin until I was 12, when my teacher decided it was time to shorten it to Ben. Then college friends and a radio career came calling and ÒMcCullyÓ has stuck as the most real, persistent way of acknowledging me. And I like being real.

So let's get real: is it time for a municipal and/or central name change within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo?

Absolutely. Is it ever going to happen with a consensus and a lack of never-ending contentious debate? Not a chance.
First of all, are we changing the name of the city of Fort McMurray back to its original name of McMurray? Do we toss out the lame re-branding of Wood Buffalo and add a McMurray to the region as a whole? Do we even jokingly entertain one councilor's idea of ÒNew AthensÓ? Debate amongst yourselves!

Here's where the love of slang comes in: No matter what you officially title the place that a lot of us proudly call Òhome,Ó youÕre going to experience the use of terms like ÒFort Mac,Ó ÒMcMurray,Ó ÒThe Mack,Ó ÒFort McMoney,Ó etc. in everyday vernacular. And you donÕt have to go very far to hear visceral disdain for some of those slang terms and how people that use them ÒarenÕt really from here.Ó Give me a break.

So, if we canÕt even get along on the subject of slang usage, the freest form of personal expression, then good luck agreeing on a permanent, official name change. ItÕs a waste of time, energy, and funds that could be better spent on clearing my street of snow.

Besides, arenÕt other cities in this province in more desperate need of re-branding? Balzac anyone?

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