Street names made for confusing times

By Colleen Palumbo

Last week, Gino and I went for a little drive to see what’s going on with the new units down off 5th Avenue S. and were pleasantly surprised with how good they look.

On our way back home, we detoured a few times and had a look at some of the other new homes that have gone up. It’s pretty odd seeing those new-style houses go in next to one that is 100 years old, but we’ve been creating different-style neighbourhoods for a long time.

One of the reasons that there are spots to put these new-style houses on is because 100 years ago you didn’t just buy one lot, you bought two or three or more. With land becoming scarce in Golden’s main town, the properties are being divided into single lots that were once multiple lots.

These infills caused a problem years ago with our numbering system.

In 1957, Golden officially became a village. A council was elected, and the challenge of taking Golden into the future was officially addressed.

Many immediate problems had to be dealt with, and some of the less exciting tasks such as street numbering, had to take a back burner.

It was at a regular meeting of council on March 4, that the Street Numbering Bylaw No. 122, 1963 was carried unanimously. This bylaw ended 80 years of street names.

According to the early maps, many of the streets had names as early as 1886. Not only the streets had names, so did the avenues. That must have been terribly confusing.

If asked the address, students at Lady Grey Elementary School would have said it was between Alexandra and Victoria Avenues and Calgary and Alberta Streets. The Catholic Church was on Montana Street, and River Street ran past the hospital and the tennis courts. Many of our older citizens still refer to it as River Street.

If you were standing at Calgary Street and Fourth Avenue you would have been standing at today’s traffic lights. The north side of the bridge became Third Avenue. Confused yet? It only became Fourth Avenue all the way across town when changes were made to the CPR yards and the Public Works Department.

Not only was this a very confusing situation, but it left no room for the town to expand. Hence the numbering bylaw was brought into effect.

Under the new plan, the avenues would be numbered from the Columbia River eastward, while the streets would be numbered from the Kicking Horse River both north and south.

Much discussion took place about the way to mark the streets and finally the decision was made that posts would be erected. The street and avenue numbers would be painted on the posts.

At the same time it was decided that house numbers should be provided by the Village in order to eliminate the possibility of different types and sizes.

However, this was not the end of the problem. As the population continued to grow, the Town was expanding in all directions but the numbering system still had some quirks. In 1984, Bylaw No. 640 was enacted to fix these problems.

Although the idea of having streets with names is a neat one, its not very practical. If you need proof that street names can be very confusing, follow the garage sale crowd on Saturday mornings in the summer, while they are doing laps on Selkirk Drive looking for Pine Drive.

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