Maurice LeGallais hopes to scratch one more significant event off his bucket list.
"I won't be happy until the website is fixed and I get to paint an 's' on a sign," said LeGallais, a West Point Grey resident.
LeGallais has spent years attempting to convince the park board the place name Spanish Bank Beach Park should be restored to its longtime plural designation of Spanish Banks Beach Park. LeGallais will likely get his wish July 9 as the park board once again debates the merits of a plural versus singular name for the popular set of beaches fronting English Bay.
The Courier first reported in 2005 the park board's decision to change Spanish Banks to Spanish Bank. At the time, Kits resident Robert Werner contacted the Courier concerned the park board changed the park's iconic name with no public notice. Werner had no idea LeGallais had argued with the park board about the name for almost five years. The park board told the Courier that in 2000 an engineer researching the area reviewed original naval charts that used the singular form of the name. Based on this engineer's recommendation, the board quietly changed its website, signs and maps to read "Spanish Bank" despite popular usage in Vancouver preferring the plural version of the name.
LeGallais's research revealed a marine hazard called "Spanish Bank" about a half-mile off shore, but he said that hazard should not be confused with Spanish Banks Beach Park.
Werner gave up his attempts to have the original name restored, but LeGallais soldiered on. He's cautiously optimistic he'll finally be vindicated July 9.
"Can I say I told you so?" he asked with a laugh when told about Monday's meeting.
LeGallais said former COPE park board commissioner Spencer Chandra Herbert, now the NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, was the first board member to take him seriously. LeGallais's complaints continued to fall on otherwise deaf ears until Vision Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper responded and arranged a meeting with the board's deputy general manager Peter Kuran. Jasper is bringing the motion to the board Monday recommending the name be restored to Spanish Banks.
Jasper said LeGallais' argument made sense. He said the board could have simply instructed staff to make the name change, but he wanted a public discussion at the meeting.
"That way Maurice has an opportunity to present to the board," said Jasper. "He deserves to tell his story and I'm pretty sure that if it's approved we can grant him his wish and let him paint an 's' on a sign."
Park board media spokesperson Joyce Courtney said, if the motion is approved, there will be no out-of-pocket expenses in restoring the name to Spanish Banks. Courtney noted staff will make any changes necessary to the board's website. The board won't replace maps and signs until they need updating or repairs. If the proposal is approved, park board staff will conduct an inventory to determine how many signs need to be changed and what kind of shape they're in.
"And when they need to be replaced, we also have a sign shop," said Courtney. "So it's just a matter of some staff time."
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