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What’s in a name?

Council will decide on a new name for the exchange lands on Aug. 15. P. Clarke photo.

Over the past four weeks residents have had a chance to make a lasting impact on the community by putting forward suggestions to rename the exchange lands, a parcel of land that will eventually play host to sports games and community events.

While the vast majority of the submissions it received were serious suggestions a handful of people attempted to make light of the contest with submissions such as Wasted Opportunity Park and Grassy McGrassy Place.

The tongue-in-cheek submissions were of course never expected to be taken seriously and were perhaps a shot at the powers that be for choosing to build a park instead of say, more housing, but now that the park is built it’s time to embrace it.

The first step to make that happen is finding a new moniker for the park instead of the dull and bureaucratic name is has become known as: The Exchange Lands.

The most logical choice of course is Pyramid Park given that it garnered the most submissions (five in total), is located on the corner of Pyramid Lake Road and Geikie Street and Pyramid Mountain can be seen from the field, but is this the best name out there?

For a community that rarely gets a chance to name things this is a wonderful opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

Just think about it for a second.

Fifty years ago this year Centennial Park was named in celebration of Canada’s 100th anniversary since Confederation. The Robson House, home of the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce on Patricia Street, is another example where names can hold meaning.

Beyond the townsite just about every mountain, river and valley has a name based on its historical past. Heck, even some of the wildlife in town have personalized names.

While naming a park may seem like a futile exercise, place names reflect a community’s culture, history and identity and should therefore be carefully considered before being renamed.

In fact, place names play such an important role in society there is actually a field of study dedicated to the discipline called toponymy, which studies the origins, meanings, use and typology of place names.

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to naming a place, it is generally accepted that place names have historically reflected the local geography or human history of an area.

With this is in mind, councillors should carefully consider the options before them next week when they vote on a new name for the park because chances are this park will be here long after we’re all gone.

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