by Phil Ambroziak

Meadow Lake city council has recently been playing the name game.

After deciding at its Jan. 28 meeting to name a recently registered road near the Meadow Lake Golf Course Obrigewitsch Lane in honour of former mayor Darwin Obrigewitsch, council has since changed its collective mind.

During a special meeting held last Thursday (Feb. 14), council revisited the matter and, instead, voted to name the road Lajeunesse Lane. This came at the behest of the Lajeunesse family who asked the city to consider their strong family ties to that part of town.

“Can the name of the road be readdressed by council?” asked Victoria Lajeunesse in a recent email to both city clerk Jessica Walters and mayor Gary Vidal. “Sylvio Lajeunesse moved there with his family in 1944. Titles were changed in 1949. There have been four generations of the Lajeunesse family that have lived there over the years, including our children. We didn’t put the Lajeunesse name on there to be arrogant, rather because that land will have been in the family for 75 years this May.”

Lajeunesse also noted she was unaware the name of the road would be discussed at the Jan. 28 meeting. Meanwhile, during last week’s special council meeting, Vidal moved for the road to be renamed Lajeunesse Lane. This was seconded by councillor Conrad Read.

“I suggest, if we had all the information we now have when we first considered the name, this is what I would have voted for,” Vidal said. “Secondly, I don’t want in any way for anyone to interpret this as our desire not to honour former mayor Obrigewitsch. We will find an appropriate way to honour him in the future. And, thirdly, based on the history of this land, it’s appropriate we consider this name at this time for this subdivision rather than a future subdivision somewhere else. Because of the decades of history of this land being in this family, this is the appropriate place to have this name. I also think this is different than what we do when we have a standard new development such as Yaychuk Place or Fournier Drive. Again, because of the history, I think it’s appropriate we utilize the Lajeunesse name.”

Read echoed this.

“Based on the history, to name a new subdivision somewhere else after the Lajeunesse family wouldn’t have as much meaning,” he noted.

Although councillor Curtis Paylor understood the reasoning behind Vidal’s motion, he was originally in favour of keeping the name Obrigewitsch Lane.

“With how I think this is going to go, I would like to know the procedure as far as who is going to contact the Obrigewitsch family,” Paylor said. “It (naming the road for the former mayor) has already been publicly published and, while I understand no one by any means wants to dishonour mayor Obrigewitsch, someone needs to communicate this to them now. I’m not worried about any of the names we attach to it. I’m just worried about us going through the process of doing a redo. The due diligence was done on our behalf and this information hadn’t come forward. Will someone phone Darwin’s family personally and at least let them know?”

Obrigewitsch, who was living in British Columbia after moving from Meadow Lake, died in 2017. After approving the name change, council also directed administration to contact Obrigewitsch’s family.

At its Jan. 28 meeting, council approved the permanent closure and exchange of an undeveloped road allowance running adjacent to Golf Course Road for an existing but unregistered road located to the south in order to allow for legal road access to the surrounding properties. That road, which will now be registered is the new Lajeunesse Lane.

Among those pleased with council’s latest decision is Rita Lajeunesse. Her husband’s (Rene Lajeunesse) parents were the ones who settled on that land back in 1944.

“I think it’s very nice of (the city) to do this,” Lajeunesse said. “I’m sure Rene’s parents would also be very pleased. There’s been a lot of history there, so it was nice of the city to consider this.”