Now that there will be a Parks and Recreation committee in the District of Kent, Council can send discussions from their chambers to the committee table. And once the member list is firmed up, it looks like there will already be at least one item to discuss.
Council made a motion at the last Council meeting February 23 to move the deliberation of adding Peter Wiehler’s name to a Park and Street Naming Registry to the newly formed committee.
Council’s decision arose from a staff report suggesting Council consider adding Peter Wiehler to the Park and Street Naming Registry. At a Council meeting in December, 2014, the discussion was prompted from to a letter by Wiehler’s wife Sharon asking the District to consider renaming a park in Agassiz after her late husband. Suggestions included Evergreen park or Rockwell Park.
Under Council’s direction, staff researched the history of Evergreen Park and the involvement of the Agassiz-Harrison Lions Club. They were heavily involved in Evergreen Park and were therefore presented with a request to rename the park to Wiehler Park. According to the staff report, the Lions “respectfully declined the request as they did not agree that the Park should take on a resident’s name.” The Lions executive did suggest they would be willing to work on an amenity in the park in dedication to Peter Wiehler.
Coun. Duane Post says he found it “curious” that the Lions club has the authority to “dictate to us” what to name the park.
Mayor John Van Laerhoven asserted that their intention was to recognize the Lion’s contributions to the park, not that they could dictate to Council what they can and cannot do.
Coun. Darcy Striker, a Lions club member himself, provided insight on the discussion from the Lions. He said they raised the point that there are a lot of good people out there, so “how do you choose one over the other?” when it comes to naming parks. However, he said the Lions would like to fix up the park more and that, when it’s finished, they could put something in the park with Wiehler’s name on it.
Van Laerhoven liked that idea, saying he would like something named after Wiehler in a timeframe “where his contributions are remembered” by people that are still alive.
The registry was created to help in the naming of local landmarks, complete with guidelines on what individuals fit the criteria, such as living in the community for at least 10 years, having made a special contribution to the community, or Aboriginals whose historic home is the region, among other criteria. Should Wiehler’s name be added to the list, it would be one of five names currently on the registry, of which Councils can use as a source of inspiration for naming new parks or streets.
Wiehler was a well-known local figure. He passed away in September, 2013 from ALS. He was born and raised here and served as a paramedic for 30 years. He worked unofficially as a German translator for the BC Paramedics and was active in his church community at Mountain View Community Church.