Council continues debate on new name for former church

St. Paul's United Church in Kagawong

KAGAWONG—In a recorded vote, Billings council has rejected a motion that would have seen the former St. Paul’s United Church on the Hill renamed The Old Church on the Hill. Instead, council has decided to extend the deadline for receiving input on the three names that members of the public have the opportunity to vote on.      

As was reported earlier this month, council had selected three of a possible 13 names submitted for the name of the building, and then called on members of the public to vote on the options. They include The Hillside Theatre, The Old Church on the Hill and St. Paul’s On the Hill.

It was pointed out by Billings Economic Development Officer Todd Gordon at a recent meeting that the poll had received 53 responses and the name which received the most number of votes was “The Old Church on the Hill,” which received 21 votes.   

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“Do you think we might be losing rentals by calling it the Old Church on the Hill?”asked Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack.

“That’s a good point,” said Councillor Brian Parker. “The name sounds like an old building. It may have the wrong connotation.”

Councillor Alkenbrack suggested that the name in this case should have been left as St. Paul’s on the Hill.

Councillor Nora Bath-Haring said, “shouldn’t the window for opportunity to vote be extended? It was only out for a week.”

Mayor Austin Hunt agreed that a final decision on the name should be delayed to allow for further input from the public.

However, it was pointed out by township Clerk Kathy McDonald that the building can’t be rented out or advertised for events until a name is chosen for the building.

“It is an historic building, it is literally the old church on the hill,” said Councillor Barb Erskine. “It is logical and provides people some idea where it is in the township.”

“But a lot of people didn’t have the opportunity to vote,” said Ms. Bath-Haring. “I know I saw it once on our website but when I went back I didn’t see it again.”

Councillor Erskine said if council decides not to vote it means township staff have wasted their time and effort in posting the survey and getting the results. “We had chose the three names to selecte from, asked for public input. We need to take more responsibility.”

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with extending the time for people to vote,” said Councillor Alkenbrack.

“All anyone would have had to do is go on our website, scroll down to the survey and answer one question,” said Councillor Erskine.

It was pointed out by Councillor Bath-Haring that not everyone has computers.

“We have a motion to consider and we can approve or reject it,” stated Councillor Erskine.

“Is this such a big deal we have to make a final decision tonight?” asked Councillor Bath-Haring.

The motion to approve the name The Old Church on the Hill was defeated with only Councillor Erskine voting in favour.

“I know we want to choose a name so the facility can be rented out,” said Councillor Alkenbrack. “Do I like the name (that received the most votes)? No. I think it’s stupid.”

“But the voting closed to early,” said Councillor Bath-Haring. She said the voting time period needs to be extended.                                                                                                                                       

Council agreed to allow more time for the public to vote on the three names, which they can do by going on the township website, sending in the name to the township, or calling the township office with their vote.

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