Heritage rarely gets much consideration from Surrey council or city staff, so it was a pleasant surprise to find out how much effort has been recently put into actively pursuing names for roads, districts and geographic features.
Much of this work came to fruition with significant changes to Surrey’s original road numbering bylaw number 1,500, which was adopted in 1957. That bylaw eliminated most of the names of Surrey streets, replacing them with numbers. The changes to the original bylaw were adopted by council last summer.
The changes recognize that the original bylaw called for named streets – those that are not east-west or north-south in direction. While this has been done in many parts of Surrey since that time, the streets that have been named have usually reflected the desires of developers, not necessarily the city at large. Thus developments like Birdland (in Guildford) and Cowtown (in Cloverdale) came about, using names of birds and cattle respectively.
The changes call for a more active role by the city in the naming of future roads. New road names will “recognize a natural feature, flora or fauna, a major public institution or other defining land use of significance to Surrey, or a historical figure, group, place, or event of significance to Surrey.”
There are also guidelines to ensure road names contribute positively to the community and cannot be construed as advertising a business.
The city is recognizing that, while numbered streets must predominate in order for people to be able to find their way around, street names can play an important role in the life of the city.
The changes to the bylaw also pay considerable attention to secondary road naming. This practice began in 1979 when council agreed to a suggestion from the public that heritage road markers be placed along many of Surrey’s main streets, to commemorate the names they had long had.
Thus 128 Street also had signs placed along the roadside, noting that it was once known as Sandell Road. Hjorth Road signs were placed along 104 Avenue, and Bose Road signs went up along 64 Avenue, while North Bluff road signs were erected along 16 Avenue. Several historic hills, such as Woodward’s Hill and Hartnell Hill, have also received signs.
In 2006, the secondary road naming policy was expanded, with a stretch of 106 Avenue adjacent to the Whalley Legion becoming Veterans Way. Since that time, 62 Avenue from 176 Street to the Stetson Bowl in Cloverdale has been named Bill Reid Way, to commemorate former MLA Bill Reid who was unofficially “Mr. Cloverdale” for many years, and an unceasing promoter of the town and Surrey at large.
Surrey also officially named its first historic district last year, with the Whalley’s Corner district being recognized as the area immediately surrounding King George Boulevard, Grosvenor Road and 108 Avenue (formerly Ferguson Road). This is where the original Whalley’s Corner gas station was located, and is also the area where the Whalley commercial area had its beginnings in the 1940s.
It is good to see a consistent approach to street naming which also recognizes the historic richness of road names.
All of these changes are important steps in Surrey maturing as a city.
Frank Bucholtz writes weekly for The Leader.