The ballad of Boaty McBoatface
A lot of roads lead through Jasper. To many, they all do.
The natural beauty that surrounds us draws, as the marketeers in Nelson, BC like to say, “free spirits and well-rounded squares” from across this great country and around the world, acting like a talent distillery and creating an atmosphere of community, caring and cool the author has nary seen elsewhere in what is quickly approaching a 20-year-career that has spanned four provinces and territories.
It is ironic then, even if in just an Alanis Morrissette, 10,000 spoons kind of way, that the edifices visitors and new residents are presented with when they get here are so utilitarian: the activity centre for activities, the aquatic centre for aquatics.
Case in point: don’t ask Mayor Richard Ireland about the Quorum Room.
It came out on Valentine’s Day that there is no love lost between the town’s chief magistrate and the ad-hoc name attached to the space in the library basement used as council chambers, framed by modular glass walls that can be removed in order to create a larger space to rent out.
“Council chambers” just doesn’t have the same ring to it when staffers are marketing venues, according to CAO Mark Fercho. Apparently Quorum Room was a placeholder for the venue rate sheet, but that didn’t stop the mayor from suggesting that in the future names for particular rooms in municipal facilities be suggested by civil servants with the final say resting with elected officials.
Otherwise, Jasper could become another Boaty McBoatface, which emerged as the winning moniker for a multi-million dollar yacht in the United Kingdom when officials failed to specify who actually had the final say in a naming contest.
We may have a solution.
This issue of the Fitzhugh will be reporter Kayla Byrne’s last as a staff member. She has made a deep impression on this town, this interprovincial and possibly transdimensional hub, in just a few short months and in doing so, caught the attention of the brass at the municipality. Kayla will be taking over for the retiring Beryl Cahill, whose fingerprints are literally everywhere in this community after more than 30 years of doing everything from performing marriages to holding late-night bail hearings in her pyjamas.
Kayla is endowed with high emotional intelligence, an unwavering sense of humanity and a clear moral compass, to say nothing of her strong grasp on both official languages.
That’s why she’s been such an asset to the newspaper, and why she will continue to be to the community for years to come. If there’s anyone who can come up with something better than Quorum Room, it’s her.
The Fitzhugh wishes Kayla good fortune and steady seas as she sets about to fill Cahill’s well-worn shoes. May the road rise up to meet her.