Council Supports Naming Harbour Service Road “Rick Leaney Way”

Rick Leaney Way


Here are my speaking notes that I used during this debate:

Bryan Mackell, 23yr staffer and Town’s Planner and was the Administrator of the Harbour and actually hired Rick Leaney – wrote some sentiments that are shared by virtually everyone I have spoken to about this issue.

“What a travesty. Rick Leaney was hired as the Harbour Master initially on a part time basis in the early 80’s and for decades was the face of Midland greeting visitors, transient boaters and administrating to the needs of the Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian naval ships, tall ships and tour ships alike. For 25 years the town had a promotion booth at the Toronto international boat show and for a week Rick greeted summer boaters and when he wasn’t at the booth, we fended inquiries about him. Rick was well respected by all of the other marina operators in the Severn Sound boating area. Additionally due to his families background in the shipping industry, his father was a respected Captain in the CSL Corporation, Rick was often a point of contact for freighter captains while in port. Rick is a living historical ambassador for our community. With all due respect to the current staff, none of them have had the pleasure of working with Rick Leaney. Name the thoroughfare after him.”

Others remind us that “Rick started the fishing derby many years ago and found sponsors and volunteers to help out each and every year for at least 20 years.”

We have named “non streets” or “thoroughfares” outside of the policy such as at the NSSRC – Bunn & Buzz Deschamps Way, Martells Lane at Little Lake Park, Adam Dixon Way…

This a $150 spend, recognizes an multi decade ambassador of our town at the very place where he served and where is best rememebered.   To deny this would be insult and the fact that we are having to debate this after we already voted for it months ago is very very unfortunate. 

The staff report is not flawed in the technical interpretation of the naming policy.  But like any policy, it is subject to bypass when the appropriate circumstances present themselves.  Much like a law, not every breach ends up in arrest or charge.  Discretion is in the hands of those empowered to enforce laws, rules, bylaws and policies.  We do a disservice by a legalistic and inflexible application of every policy and bylaw we manage.

It also brings up a side issue, which is the lacking of a plaque to recognize our award of merit recipients.  I will deal with that oversight in another motion at another meeting.  Tonight I am asking you to set aside the staff recommendation, recognize Rick Leaney by erecting a sign at the harbour and do so this fall.

Here is some media coverage of the conversation:

Staff Recommends Against Naming Harbour Service Road “Rick Leaney Way”

A staff report before Midland Council next week recommends against a resident’s request to name a lane way beside Midland Harbour after long-serving town harbourmaster Rick Leaney.

At its meeting held September 18, 2019, Council received a deputation from Mr. Howie Major proposing that the road between the Town Dock Office and the Boathouse Restaurant be named Rick Leaney Way. Following Mr. Major’s deputation, Council passed the following motion:

“That, further to the deputation provided by Mr. Howie Major,
regarding the naming of the road between the Town Dock Office and
the Boathouse Restaurant as Rick Leaney Way, the matter be referred
to staff with a report to be brought forward at a future meeting.”

The report recommends against this designation as it does not follow the street naming policy and further recommends that Mr Leaney may qualify to have his name added to the list of potential Award of Merit recipients in the future.

Here is the full report, and if this issue matters to you, I urge you to review this short report.

Does council have to follow the advice of staff? No. One of the options is to dismiss the staff recommendations and name the service roadway after our long-serving harbour master anyway at a cost of $150.

Another issue that was brought to my attention in this report is that we have failed to erect the plaques for the many past recipients of the most prestigious award we can bestow upon citizens – the Award of Merit.

“The Award of Merit Criteria established in 1956 stipulates that those who receive the Award are to have this distinction recognized by the erection of a plaque in the Municipal Building bearing the Town Crest and the citation: Town of Midland – Award of Merit Recipients, and listing on the plaque by means of engraved or cast brass plates indicating the individual recipient and the year in which the Award was presented. At this time of writing such a plaque still has not be erected.”

I will be drafting a motion to see that we get this plaque erected as soon as possible and add this year’s recipients to it.

If you have any opinion about this staff report or the naming of this un-named service road after Rick Leaney, please make your thoughts know to me before the meeting next Wednesday.