Council rejects suggestion to name electoral areas

By Allan Benner, The Standard

Steven Soos

Steven Soos

Welland city councillors would rather address concerns within their respective wards than spend time thinking of names for the city districts.

A suggestion from Welland resident Steven Soos to adopt names for each of the city’s six wards received a lukewarm reception from city councillors at Tuesday’s general committee meeting.


Providing an example of his idea, Soos told councillors, “Instead of Jim Larouche, a councillor for Ward 6, he could be the Rosie Smith Ward councillor, or the St. George Park Ward councillor.”


Soos, who said he came up with the idea after talking to a friend who was confused about ward locations in the city, told councillors that naming wards in the city would help make the areas more identifiable to residents.


“I want this project to be fun for the residents of Welland, of course,” he said, adding ward names could also “give more autonomy and individuality for each of the councillors.”


Councillors, however, told him the idea might not be well-received by residents.


Ward 4 Coun. Pat Chiocchio said constituents who contacted him recently have been “very negative” about the idea.


Residents in Ward 4 have “gone through a lot in the past few years … regarding noise, garbage and parking” associated with Niagara College students living in the area, Chiocchhio said. 


Those residents, he added, certainly do not want their neighbourhoods officially known as “the college area.” 


“As it stands right now, we’d have to be very careful moving forward because if we name certain areas, there are people who might not want it,” he said.


The ward system “is not a publicity stunt for our community,” Chiocchio said, adding it’s about council representation and municipal elections. 


He said Ward 4 includes the neighbourhoods surrounding the college, as well as Hunter’s Pointe, and part of East Main Street. Selecting a single name for the ward would fail to reflect its diversity.


“I think at this time I’d rather be fighting for what they need in that area, rather than finding a name for that area,” Chiocchio said.


Although Soos told councillors ward names would help bring the community together, Ward 1 Coun. Mary Ann Grimaldi said it would probably have the opposite effect. 


“You’re dividing the people even more,” she said. “It’s divisive. I appreciate what you’re offering here, but I prefer Welland to stay un-divisive.”

“I look at it as a unifier,” Soos responded.


Ward 3 Coun. John Chiocchio said named wards could also cause confusion among people who have lived in the city for a long time, and are already well aware of the ward they live in.


Councillors received Soos’ presentation for information, but no action was taken.