The residents of Entity 51 have chosen the name they'd like their amalgamated new community to be called, and it's got a familiar ring to it.
Entity 51, a temporary name assigned during the provincewide amalgamation process that's underway, encompasses the neighbouring communities of Grand Bay-Westfield and a portion of the local service district of Westfield West.
In March, the entity struck a naming committee and invited residents to submit their choices. A total of 116 unique name suggestions were received and were eventually winnowed down to five top contenders.
Those five contenders were voted on in April, and this week, with an Academy Awards-style flourish involving a "little envelope," the entity's naming committee chair revealed the recommended new name.
"We've got this envelope here, none of us know what's in it, let's find out," committee chair Jon Taylor said at the live-streamed meeting.
"The name is: Grand Bay-Westfield. Do we have a slide? No we don't. Well you all know what the name looks like. It looks like Grand Bay-Westfield."
Future council to choose ceremonial Indigenous name
Grand Bay-Westfield beat out the other four submissions — Nerepis Valley, Westfield, Hillandale and Three Rivers — in the first round of preferential voting, meaning it received 51 per cent or more of the vote in the first round.
Although the town engaged in consultation with Wolastoqiyik representatives about potential Indigenous names for the municipality, the naming committee was told by the province that the consultation "did not meet the standard of full and proper consultation."
However, Taylor said at an earlier meeting on April 6, the committee is proposing that the future council choose a ceremonial Indigenous name to accompany the legal name.
This name could be used in conjunction with the formal, legal name on things like welcome signs and land acknowledgements, he said.
"The province is enthusiastically supporting the idea of a ceremonial name," Taylor said.
'Incredible' community engagement
Taylor said he was impressed by residents' "incredible" engagement in the naming process.
A total of 2,165 votes were cast, prompting provincial transitions facilitator Bill Thompson to note: "That's better than the municipal election."
"You really went above and beyond," Taylor said at Wednesday's meeting.
"I've seen other entities of similar population sizes who are going through their own naming processes that received less than a quarter of the submissions we did."
The committee passed a motion confirming the name of Grand Bay-Westfield as voted on by residents, and will submit the name to the transitional advisory committee and to town council, which will vote on it on May 9.
The name will then be submitted to the province on May 10 and, pending the province's approval, will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.