Niki Hope’s column, Is it time to drop the ‘Royal City’ tag? (The Record, April 4) raises interesting and important questions for New Westminster. Our outward identity, our “brand,” should align with our collective mission, vision and values, which, in turn, should inform and inspire every corporate decision we make.
To me, Royal City is an excellent brand, one we should keep, reinforce and leverage to the full.
As a city, we compete with many other municipalities for people, businesses, attention and resources. In any competition, differentiation is key. Royal City is a very unique and well-known slogan that not only sets us apart, it succinctly conveys a lot of positive and attractive meaning about our town.
“Royal City” suggests history and significance. Westminster is the seat of British power, so it’s logical that New Westminster would share a certain connection to the monarchy. We are a very old city known for carrying on age-old traditions such as May Day and the Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery, honouring the monarchy.
Emphasizing our authentic and enviable heritage in a very young metropolitan region is not something we should be shy about. And underscoring the past in no way undermines a current and forward-looking orientation.
On the contrary, being authentically old-fashioned has become the epitome of hip.
Today, everything handmade, artisanal and local is in demand. If it’s retro, kitschy and funky, it’s cool. Vancouver’s Main Street, once just plain old and dowdy (I lived there for a while in the ’70s), is a thriving centre of fashion and urban chic.
But old stuff alone does not make for a happening youth scene here in the Royal City. You need young people. Lots and lots of them. Attracting more young people (and retaining the ones we have) should be a top priority.
To make New Westminster a thriving youth destination, we’re going to need a lot of vision, a lot of time, a lot of jobs and a lot of money. A “with the times” rebrand will not help, and could make things much worse. The opposite of cool is trying to be cool.
New Westminster is like a place that time forgot, full of charming anachronism and esoteric knowledge. Hyack is a word known only to locals who proudly translate it for outsiders. We still have pageants. Old-school parades with people in white pants and funny green jackets march through town like it was the ’60s.
Speaking of green jackets, I just got my very own Hyack blazer the other day. It’s pretty cool. No. Very cool.
David Brett is a New Westminster resident.
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