A new street in Port Alberni has been given a traditional Nuu-chah-nulth name.
Last year, Catalyst Paper subdivided and sold some of their property at 4000 Stamp Avenue, creating a new street where there had formerly only been an access road. The new street was officially named Nuupts’ ikapis Way (pronounced NOOPT-seek-cup-is) during a meeting of Port Alberni city council on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The new street has prompted a review of the city’s list of pre-approved street names.
City CAO Tim Pley explained that the city’s street naming policy says that new road names can be selected from a list of pre-approved names.
“Unfortunately, that list is dated,” he added. “It was last approved by council in 2006.”
Alternatively, an applicant or developer can propose a different street name to be reviewed by staff and city council. The name Nuupts’ ikapis Way was proposed by the San Group, who purchased the subdivided land.
The name has historical significance because it is the name of a former Indigenous village site located near the mouth of the Somass River, in the same vicinity as the subdivision. It translates into “one tree on the beach.” The area has been known colloquially as Lupsi Cupsi, which is an anglicization of Nuupts’ ikapis.
“I think one of the best ways we can really respect local First Nations here is to learn the word and not go through the anglicized pronunciation of it,” said Port Alberni’s communications manager, Alicia Puusepp, on Tuesday.
Both Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations have indicated their support for the name, and the name has been reviewed to ensure there are no duplicates within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s 911 emergency response area.
Earlier this year, the city’s Reconciliation Committee made 27 recommendations to council. One of these was to add Nuu-chah-nulth words and phrases to local place names.
“That’s something we shouldn’t lose track of,” Pley said.
Council agreed on Tuesday to revise the list of approved street names in order to include options that are First Nations words and names.