What's in a name? As Alberta towns consider merger, residents mull what to call combined community

·2 min read
The Alberta towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond are just three kilometres apart — so they're considering amalgamation to pool their resources. But what to call the new combined community? (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
The Alberta towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond are just three kilometres apart — so they're considering amalgamation to pool their resources. But what to call the new combined community? (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

Two neighbouring Alberta towns are in the midst of negotiations to amalgamate — which means collecting suggestions on what to call the new combined community.

Turner Valley and Black Diamond are just three kilometres apart, each with a population of around 2,700 and their own history and identity.

This is the fifth time since 1988 the towns have explored amalgamation. The last vote, in 2007, saw the "no" side win by a narrow margin.

The towns share a water treatment plant and a sewage system, and in 2012 signed a "friendship agreement" that formalizes commitment to collaboration.

The towns are currently collecting public input, and if they choose to proceed will send a notification of their intention to amalgamate to the minister of municipal affairs in September, with an anticipated incorporation date of Jan. 1, 2023.

Among that public input is a call for new name suggestions, which are being accepted until end of day Sunday.

Black Diamond Mayor Ruth Goodwin said the call for names has generated a lot of discussion.

"It's intrinsic to the success in the eyes of many who live within its boundaries," Goodwin said.

"Our residents and business owners want to be able to relate and identify with a name that that best represents a sense of history, recognition, marketability and cultural significance. So this is an important aspect of the amalgamation application process and our public engagement."

Bridget Lacey grew up in Turner Valley, and is in favour of joining the towns.

"I'm in favour of the name Diamond Valley personally, I think it's a nice sounding name and includes the two towns in part," she said.

But Cheryl Graeyson is less sure.

"I don't believe the two towns being amalgamated is going to make any difference as far as what our residents ourselves have to pay in property taxes and recycling — I just don't see it happening," she said.

If the towns combine, some are open to entirely new names.

"I also think that maybe something that is local to both communities that is entirely different, I don't know," said Lynne Steele. "I think we're close enough together it should be all one community."

Goodwin said there are several potential benefits to amalgamation, like sharing the cost of policing or waste and recycling — a savings that will be passed on to residents.

The short-listed names will be made public in mid-June.