March 23rd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 12
Did the mayor of Black Diamond say the Pass was poorly amalgamated?
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Sharlene Brown, the mayor of Black Diamond
Pass Herald Reporter
Whaddaya mean we’re not the best example?

Last month on the CBC, Sharlene Brown, the mayor of Black Diamond, seemingly called out the Pass for being a poor example of the amalgamation of communities.

The possible affront occurred on Feb. 23, as Calgary Eyeopener host Jennifer Keene was speaking with Brown about the possibility of her town amalgamating with Turner Valley, just like when the communities of Coleman, Blairmore, Bellevue, Hillcrest and Frank amalgamated into the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass in 1979.

“Do you think you’d be stronger if you joined forces? Sort of along the lines of Crowsnest Pass?” asked Keene.

“I don’t think Crowsnest Pass is necessarily the best example that we want to use,” replied Brown.

“No?” asked Keene.

“No. I don’t think that that’s the best example,” said Brown. “I think we would try to set our own direction.”

That response from the mayor of Black Diamond struck a cord with longtime Crowsnest Pass resident David McIntyre who sent an email to the CBC.

“I wish Turner Valley and Black Diamond the best in their respective efforts to amalgamate behind a single winning banner,” it said.

“It’s been almost 40 years since the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass—on paper—achieved this objective. The community, as a result, became one of Alberta’s largest—it’s roughly half the size of Calgary. But, united in name, Crowsnest Pass has floundered in it ability to use its size and enhanced population to put itself on the map.”
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“Most Crowsnest Pass residents and visitors still refer to the community by a handful of names that prove so confusing to society as a whole that people seeking highway directions are often given the names of smaller communities—such as Pincher Creek and Fernie—in order to direct them to the much larger community (Crowsnest Pass) that lies between them.”

Keene later interviewed McIntyre about the Pass’ amalgamation, which he said has resulted in “utter place name chaos.”

“I have dealt with it for virtually my entire working career in the Crowsnest Pass,” McIntyre told Keene. “I have tried to bring the community into public awareness and I have failed miserably. The people still tend to identify themselves as living in Bellevue, Blairmore, Coleman, Frank or Hillcrest.”

“The town themselves still seem to be distinct towns,” added Keene. “They’re still independent communities.”

In an interview with the Herald, McIntyre attributed the ‘place name chaos’ to five main reasons. First, before amalgamation the people who grew up in the different towns tended to be the crosstown rivals of people in other towns.

Second, the different towns were ethnically distinct, which has added a rich cultural legacy to the Pass but further separated the towns from one another.

Third, Canada Post does not treat the community by its only legal name – Crowsnest Pass – but instead retained the postal stations in four of the five communities.
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Fourth, the individual towns are named as such along Highway 3 so confused visitors don’t know whether they’re in Blairmore or in Crowsnest Pass or both.

Fifth, there are too many names. While Turner Valley/Black Diamond is easy enough to remember, the Pass has the five main towns and a number of sub regions like Bushtown or Passburg, further confusing outsiders.

“It doesn’t work if you try and call a place by more than two names because it just gets too complex and that’s the problem with the Pass,” said McIntyre. “Somehow the community never embraced the name so they fell back on wherever they happened to live and where they got their mail.”

Over the years, a number of campaigns have been undertaken to try and alleviate the place name chaos. There are the two older signs featuring coal cars announcing to motorists that they’re entering the Pass, the previous municipal administration installed signs featuring the new municipal logo at either end of the municipality and this year the Economic Development Committee has budgeted $9,000 for a signage campaign designed by local artist Nichole Yanota.

McIntyre questioned whether more place-name signs would be effective.

“We already have had campaigns upon campaigns,” he said. “We have a history of signs coming from all sorts of different areas that are already in place… [But] conceivably it could help.”

“I appreciate new artwork and a fresh vision.”
March 23rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 12
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