New Westminster council backs incumbent mayor’s bid to remove ‘Royal City’ moniker from branding

Mayor Jonathan Cote accused of throwing farewell ‘grenade’ in move that could prove controversial

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Outgoing New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté’s motion to rename the city, including phasing out the ‘Royal City’ moniker, was approved by council on Monday evening.

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Coté – who is a three-term councilor and two-term mayor – said when he became involved in city politics, the city council was considering whether to drop the ‘royal city’ moniker, but backed down. to community concerns.

“I think a lot has changed in the last 15 years, especially in terms of the work we need to do as an inclusive community and to continue our journey of reconciliation and that’s a really important step” , said Coté, who is not seeking re-election.

“We have many stories that need to be celebrated and focused on and we have many stories that existed before we were a city to reflect on. Although branding is symbolic, it makes an important statement.

Coté said it was inappropriate for him to send letters to First Nations on New Westminster letterhead with a “colonial crown on top”.

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“Now is the time for us to phase it out,” he said.

A circa 1866 photo of a First Nations man paddling his canoe past the nascent Fraser River community of New Westminster.
A circa 1866 photo of a First Nations man paddling his canoe past the nascent Fraser River community of New Westminster. Photo by FG ​​Claudet

The city’s logo is centered around a golden crown and linked to Queen Victoria’s decision in the 1860s to name the city after the enclave of Westminster in London. New Westminster was founded as the capital of the colony of British Columbia in 1858 on the unceded territory of the Qayqayt First Nation.

Coté also asked city staff to come up with a plan to engage the community in developing a new brand identity “that is inclusive and allows for collective pride in the city.”

Several businesses in New Westminster use the royal moniker, including the Royal City Center shopping mall, Royal City Taxi, Royal City Jewelers Royal City Manor, and the New Westminster Royals hockey team. Com. Nadine Nakagawa is a member of the Royal City Curling Club.

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The only dissenting vote came from the council. Chuck Puchmayr who said Coté left a “nice farewell grenade” with what he believes to be a controversial decision.

Coté disagreed and said the name change had been on his mind for several years.

“I don’t believe I left a grenade,” he said.

Council hopeful Daniel Fontaine, who is running in the October election with the New Westminster Progressive Electors Coalition Society, said there should have been public consultation before the vote.

“Our only indoor pool is closed for two years, our aquatic center project is $8 million over budget, property taxes are skyrocketing and that’s what the council wants to focus on. Is it time to undertake this in the last days of a diet? wrote Fontaine in a letter to Postmedia News.

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