Name that neighbourhood
Public consultation will begin soon on the new Wellington tertiary plan, which is coming out in draft form shortly. After the County’s official plan set the general rules for development Countywide, and the Wellington secondary plan dealt with zoning in our area in greater detail, the tertiary plan will wrestle with some of the softer but still difficult issues in the village. Let’s just deal with one of them: size.
Given its emergence as a tourist mecca, sanctuary for residents fleeing or cashing in on Toronto housing prices, and global financial hub, Wellington is getting big. Before it becomes unrecognizable, the proponents of the tertiary plan say, let’s do what most sophisticated cities do and divide Metropolitan Wellington into boroughs, parishes, wards, districts, quartiers, arrondissements and what have you.
The challenge lies in the details. A simple solution, borrowed from Paris, would be to have “rive gauche” and a “rive droite” to divide the village in two. But Lane Creek doesn’t flow in a straight path. And while we could divide it along a north/south axis, so that our quarters would be “East of Wharf” and “West of Wharf”; or an east/west axis, so that our quarters would be “North of Main” and “South of Main”; neither choice represents how we function: it’s an arbitrary dividing line.
The task is more nuanced. So let’s start from the west and move east, and see what comes to mind. At the west end, you’ve got your dentists and doctors, your LCBO, farm market, bakery and a couple of restaurants. By volume of traffic, it could well be called the Alcohol District, but that would fail to take into account the potential for the sale of recreational marijuana. I suggest it be called simply Uptown. The word has an aura of sophistication about it, and you’ve got 30 condominiums going up there soon, so maybe the designation will help with sales.
Then you come to Cleminson Street, which houses building suppliers, storage units and car repairers. But our veterans surely deserve recognition on their own turf, so let’s call it the Legion Ward and move on. Next we come to Consecon Street, which houses craft and art studios, signs for wineries, and the cemetery. But I have left out the most important feature. Not the empty bottle return depot peopled by our stalwart Rotarians, but the place at the end of the street from which your vehicle usually returns lighter than when it left. I would call it the Quartier Décharge: it has a more romantic sound than its English translation. Sorry about that, Consecon Street.
Moving east, you’ve got your hardware, drug and grocery stores, mini boutiques and banking, real estate, insurance, postal and spiritual services, as well as bars and restaurants. It could be called Downtown, or Olde Wellington, or the Commercial District, or even the Entertaiment District (buying nails, cough syrup and cabbage is a form of entertainment). However, and notwithstanding my earlier rejection of it as a major division line, I think it would be helpful it we stole a page from San Antonio and Chicago and called the whole area the Creekwalk District. Mind you, I would not be averse to a special name for the historic stretch of Wharf Street north of Main, such as Slaughterhouse Alley.
To round out the picture, you could have the The Mall (which names itself, because there is only one). And then you could have Harbour Parish, which could I suppose be called the Roll Up the Rim District if a certain company would pay for the privilege of being the signature name. At the far east end of town you have West Lake, and further to the north you have Rink Ward and Sniderborough.
There are some who might claim that the tertiary plan exercise in naming neighbourhoods is at best a waste of time, and at worst a diversionary tactic adopted by those who would tear down the former corner store at Wharf and Main and turn it into a parkette. That view, however, is as nonsensical as a Donald Trump tweet. What better come-on than a parkette right where the Creekwalk District meets Slaughterhouse Alley!
Other provisions of the draft tertiary plan that are bound to catch public attention stipulate what colours houses must be painted and what plants may be grown outdoors. Another, that requires all outdoor statuary to be approved by the County, is already leading to the formation of a coalition— the Friends of Garden Gnomes, Wellington Chapter— to have the whole plan declared unconstitutional as a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But that story will have to wait for another time.