Erin residents still opposed to changes to duplicate street names

Councillors and staff here again locked horns with residents last week over proposed changes to several street names in the town.
Having two or more streets with the same name became a problem for several municipalities in Wellington County after amalgamation in 1999.
Staff at the Town of Erin – the latest municipality in the county to try to address the confusion the duplicate street names cause for emergency services personnel – has proposed changing seven street names in the town (two in Hillsburgh and four in Erin, as well as Sideroad 17).
But regardless of the muni­cipality, the problems that arise out of the process always seem to be the same.
Residents are often op­posed to the changes, which can take months, if not years – as witnessed recently in Mapleton Township – to orchestrate and finally put into effect.
At Erin council last week, some residents did not like the new names suggested by town staff, while others were ada­mantly opposed to the name changes and/or the process,  regardless of the proposed names.
Lloyd Turbitt lives on Main Street in Hillsburgh, which staff has proposed to change to Trafalgar Road because there is also a Main Street in Erin village.
Turbitt compiled a survey of nearby residents and told council most people he talked to are against the name chang­e.
He said he thinks there is a deeper problem that leads to confusion for emergency re­sponse vehicles, and he also mentioned the village may lose ­­some of the heritage associated with the original street name.
“I am against any action to change any street names at this time,” he said in a letter to town planner Sally Stull.
Turbitt also told council he is opposed to the process be­cause residents were not given any say in the matter. He said it seems like the street name changes were “a done deal all along,” regardless of what residents had to say.
Mayor Rod Finnie disagreed.
“We’re trying to get input on it and determine the best answer for everybody,” Finnie said, explaining the issue arose because the fire department and ambulance personnel indicated it is a serious problem.
He added, “It certainly isn’t a done deal.”
In fact, council agreed with residents of Hill Street in Erin village that Lions Park Avenue would be a better name than Tower Street, the one suggested by staff (there is also a Hill Street in Hillsburgh).
Jim Peavoy, who serves as Deputy Fire Chief at the Hillsburgh station, is also opposed to the changes. He told council it will cause a lot of headaches for residents to change their addresses.
When several other individuals pointed out that hardly any residents are in favour of the chan­ges, councillor John Brennan said  that has nothing to do with it.
“There’s nobody on this side that wants it either,” Brennan said sternly, referring to town councillors. “The point is, somebody’s going to die if we don’t do it.”
Brennan agreed with residents who said the changes will be “a huge pain in the posterior region,” but the town has to make the changes to ensure everyone’s safety.
Fire Chief John McDougall, who has lobbied for years for the changes, agreed.
“We continue to have problems with street names. It’s a huge problem,” McDougall said.
“I don’t want someone to die in a fire because we went to the wrong address … I really couldn’t live with myself if someone died.”
Councillor Barb Tocher said the town has to make the changes, despite the unpopularity of the move.
“The town has managed to put this off for 10 years,” she said, adding, “We’ve been lucky” no one was injured or killed because of duplicate street names.
After discussions between councillors, staff, and county Emergency Management Co­ordinator Linda Dickson, council decided to proceed with the following recommendations.
 As planned
Elizabeth Street in Hills­burgh will be changed to Gibey Street (there is also an Eliza­beth Street in Orton).
Church Street in Erin village will be changed to Church Boulevard (there is a dual street name of Church Boule­vard and Church Street in Erin, and also a Church Street in Hillsburgh).
And the south side of Sideroad 17 will be renumbered.
Mill Street
Finnie suggested going with  the staff recommendation to change Mill Street in Erin to Millwood Road, because there is a dual name existing for that street (Mill and Millwood). There is also a Mill Street in Hillsburgh.
Main Street
Finnie suggested sticking with Trafalgar Road road for Main Street in Hillsburgh. Tocher agreed, and said everyone knows it as Trafalgar anyhow.
Stull told council East Garafraxa has sent the town a letter of intent stating it will also change its portion of the road to Trafalgar, so that change makes sense.
Finnie said council is not trying to destroy Hillsburgh or its heritage, as some residents said, but it just makes sense to have  the road named Trafalgar all the way through town. Several residents had also stated that Trafalgar sounds too much like a Halton Hills or Oakville name.
Water Street
Water Street in Hillsburgh will be changed – because no one lives on that road – instead of changing Water Street in Erin. Staff was to investigate possibly naming the Hillsburgh street after a local individual who died in battle.
Staff and council also agreed that better signs will be applied to distinguish between Water Street and Waterford Drive in Erin.
Hill Street
Hill Street in Erin will be renamed Lions Park Avenue, as residents had suggested. Coun­cillor Ken Chapman indicated the Lions Club may be willing to help pay for signs, which could include the club’s logo.
Close vote
When it came time to vote on the revamped recommendations, Finnie, Tocher, and Josie Wintersinger were in favour, and the motion passed. Chap­man, who had disagreed with the decision on Main Street, was opposed, along with Bren­nan.
Because council altered the proposed name changes, another public meeting on the matter has been scheduled for April 1.