It was a touchy subject in July of 2008 when the Cowichan Community Centre was officially renamed the Island Savings Centre, thanks to a $1 million deal between the credit union and the regional district.
It’s sure to be a touchy subject again if the Municipality of North Cowichan goes ahead with any other corporate partnerships to re-brand its public facilities in exchange for an infusion of cash.
So what’s the big deal?
Giving a corporation the right to put their name on a publicly-owned building is done on a regular basis in Canadian communities large and small.
The Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria comes to mind. So does Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Letting an interested company put their name on a facility seems a small price to pay for many who are eager for any offset to their property taxes.
But for others, allowing a corporation naming rights, which, as in the case of the Island Savings Centre, can take “community” directly out of the institution’s name, gets their backs up.
The community, they will tell you, through our collective taxes, has put far more money into these facilities than any corporate entity ever promises to, and so to replace “community” is a slap in the face.
Our politicians have promised in the past that they would never just hand over naming rights to any and all comers, but would be selective about who would be given those rights, no matter how much money was on offer.
But while some undesirables would probably be a no-brainer, there is a whole spectrum from there to widely acceptable.
And to some, there is no acceptable offer to be had.
The list of venues before North Cowichan for consideration aren’t currently named for any particular person or event, so that avoids some pitfalls at least.
We shudder at the community outrage changing the name of a building named in someone’s memory, for example, would engender.
Not without reason.
On the other side, it’s important to note that the companies involved just get naming right, not rights to any determination of programming that might be offered at the facility in question.
North Cowichan council has put off even talking seriously about this until they get some feedback from the public.
Which is an excellent idea. It’s a tricky subject.
Be sure to let them — and us, — know what you think.