'Vimy Bridge' idea creates naming conundrum
Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: July 30, 2014, Last Updated: July 30, 2014 11:40 AM EDT
Seems the suggestion to name the new Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge after one of Canada’s greatest military victories is far from universally loved.
As the Citizen’s Andrew Seymour reported on July 20, the Royal Canadian Legion branches in Manotick and Barrhaven suggest the recently opened bridge should be named Vimy Bridge.
The battle of Vimy Ridge, after all, is seen as a defining moment in Canada’s history. The three-day battle took place in northern France in April 1917 and claimed 3,598 Canadian lives. Another 7,000 were wounded, but the victory was significant.
Yesterday, the city announced that the public has until Aug. 27 to comment on the proposal.
Some have wondered if “Vimy Bridge” is the only possible name up for discussion. The short answer is yes.
The city’s policy for commemorative naming works like this: Any member of the public or city council can submit a name for consideration. If a preliminary investigation finds the nomination is, in the city’s view, “meritorious,” an application must be submitted to the Commemorative Naming Committee.
If the committee approves the application, it is then submitted to a 30-day public consultation phase to ensure there is community support for the name suggested. After that, the committee — made up the mayor, ward councillor and city staff — will meet to consider the comments received and make a recommendation to council.
Now, not long after I tweeted the latest development — that is, the launch of the public consultation on the “Vimy Bridge” suggestion, folks on Twitter and Facebook spoke their minds.
“No. No no no no. Puns about war sites are not amusing. Or in any way okay,” tweeted one person.
“Enough about Vimy already! I have heard so much about the so-called “great war” it makes me want to puke. Try talking to those who were there. My grandpa and great uncle were. They suffered so much they didn’t want to talk about it, they didn’t say much except it was nothing to glorify and the nations who participated should be ashamed. Their experience made me ardently anti-war and anti-imperialist,” wrote another.
Fully support the name “Vimy Bridge” The Vetarans deserve it !!!!,” wrote a third, the numerous exclamation marks clearly underscoring his enthusiasm.
Still others are bothered that the proposed name for the bridge is a pun — which they feel isn’t appropriate given the gravity of war and the sacrifice of veterans.
Wrote one reader in an e-mail to me: “If they must rename it, how about Vimy Ridge Memorial Bridge — you need to break up ridge and bridge. Its a bit of a mouthful, but Vimy Ridge Bridge doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. At the end of the day, if people want they can call it Vimy bridge colloquially, so be it, but that shouldn’t be the official name.”
Clearly, the commemorative naming committee has its work cut out.