What is in the name of a new suburb, Calgary edition

As the suburbs of Calgary expand, how are new community names selected and who approves these names?

Photo by Lisa Bourgeault on Pexels.com

Just last week, a committee of city councillors discussed a report on eight yet-to-be-approved new suburbs, including a proposed community called “Nostalgia.”…

Tuscany? No offence to residents of this northwest suburb, but it has little in common with the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

Walden? Yes, there’s a pond — located a short drive from the McDonald’s, TacoTime and Save-On Foods. I doubt Thoreau would find much solitude.

And don’t get me started on Ambleton, currently under construction at the far north end of the city. As in, you can “amble” past monotonous rows of houses along Ambleside Avenue and Ambleton Street and other future roads with proposed names like Amblefield, Amblehurst and Ambledale…

These bad names are a shame because Calgary is rich in history and stories. Community names, which will outlast all of us, are a chance to show this off…

Calgary has long had a naming policy. Its current version states that community names “should either reflect Calgary’s heritage or local geographic feature(s) including flora and fauna, and/or further a sense of community.”

Yet, somehow, council approved a community named Cityscape, even after a 2013 city report said that name “could imply any part of Calgary,” and can be shortened to “City,” which is plain confusing. 

The names of suburbs are indeed interesting to consider. They are marketing tools to differentiate a new community or subdivision from existing locations while also drawing from a similar playbook to not be too unusual within suburbia. They are often generic names intended to appeal to suburban values, whether that involves nature or nostalgia (perhaps literally as suggested above) or likeable destinations or middle-class values. Names can be changed later in a community’s existence, but this is not common.

It is intriguing that there is an official naming policy, even if it is applied inconsistently or could be improved. In the United States, subdivision names likely need approval from a municipality or whatever local government body approves the development. For a new suburb or community, someone considers that name. But, I have not run into written naming policies or guidelines in American contexts.

On a related note, see this name generator for Chicago area suburbs.

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