"A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet," but according to consultants Leighton and Woodburn, the same does not apply to the Town of Innisfil.
A stunning announcement at Innisfil's special council meeting Wed night has left residents dumbstruck, as plans to change the township's name appear to have been kept tightly under wraps until a week before Council intends to vote and approve the plan.
Calling the name change a 'fresh start', Consultant Terry Leighton insists that the new 'branding' will give a new positive image to the township, as part of a bold initiative that will engender a more friendly response towards the township by the provincial government.
Stating that Innisfil is treated with a level of disrespect by provincial government he has never before witnessed in his 30 years working with municipal governments, CAO John Skorobahacz stated that changing it's name will lift the 'cloud over Innisfil'.
The announcement has been left until a week before the Council plans to vote their approval of the 'Inspiring Innisfil 2020' plan. Although the public was included in the process of planning for Innisfil's future by being invited to offer their opinions and suggestions for the new town initiative, there was absolutely no mention of a name change until Wednesday night's meeting.
Hired consultants Leighton and Woodburn shared their observations that townspeople appeared to identify with their own small hamlets, such as Churchill, Lefroy, Alcona, more than with the township of Innisfil as justification for the recommendation.
These names would remain the same, however the new name of the township would be replacing 'Innisfil' according to Mayor Barb Baguley.
Clearly shocked by the announcement, many residents were not prepared to agree to the name change proposal without some time to consider it's impact. Many felt that the name of Innisfil is finally 'on the map' in Ontario, recently enjoying more recognition in media and broadcasting.
Others felt that the 'cloud over Innisfil' had nothing to do with it's name, but more to do with past dealings with the provincial government.
Recent annexation of Innisfil lands by Barrie was cited as another justification for Innisfil's name change by Deputy Mayor Dan Davidson, who warned that in another 20 years they may want to do so again. It was not explained to constituents exactly how a new name would stop that from happening.
The new town moniker would be a part of the new phase, involving a 36 month roll-out of the proposed plan. Woodburn stated he would not recommend a vote or referendum on the name, but was unclear on how the name would, in fact be chosen.
Early Irish settlers to the region had originally called the area 'Innisfree', a Gaelic word for their beloved Ireland, which the green pastures of Innisfil were reminiscent of, according to the Innisfil Historical Society.
Criticism of the late announcement of this recommendation includes the fact that local papers will not be able to inform the general public in time to object to this proposal, as the Council intends to accept the plan at next week's May 18th meeting. Some 80 plus businesses also use the name Innisfil, which would be prohibitively costly to change. One wonders whether the Council and their Consultants are prepared to foot the bill to help these businesses to change their advertising and logos.
The surprising announcement appears to be the latest stunt of this Council's increasingly controversial methodology. New Mayor Baguley recently met with enormous backlash after proposing that all gargabe bags would be slapped with a weekly fee, which was vehemently opposed by residents.
Now with this shocking new announcement which leaves no time for opposition, discussion, or even to properly inform the public, one is left to wonder....will Innisfil, by any other name, still be as sweet?
They say 'there's no place like home,' but how do you go back when the place you grew up in just isn't the same place - literally - anymore?