Our New Motto?

There has been a little recent on-line and print chatter about the “Royal City” moniker. It seems to stem from an off-hand comment by noted New Westminster philanthropist and style maven Bob Rennie, who suggested if we want to sell more condominiums, we should update our image. Lose the “Royal City” and the Crown motif, and start fresh.

Our Mayor, never one to lack vision, suggested off-the-cuff that to some people in New Westminster, the idea of losing the “Royal City” might be considered blasphemy. And we are off to the races.

There have been letters to the editor, lots of on-line chatter, both sides of the issue have been discussed. The subsequent announcement of the Anvil Centre naming, a name that nods deeply to traditions, mixed with its appropriately-modern NFL-Helmet-ready swoopy logo only added fuel to the low smoulder. Fanned again by Councillor Cote’s recent post on a much better local blog than this one admitting to mixed feelings about the return of “swag lights” to Downtown New Westminster. Do these lights demonstrate an excitement and sense of place, or do they just evoke a historic time that ain’t coming back, and perhaps the money could be invested better elsewhere?

I was, up to now, a little ambivalent about these ideas. I like the “Royal City” moniker, although I am anything but a royalist. There is a tradition there worth preserving, and there are (to quote myself) ways that a clever marketer can bring excitement to the Royal City motto without evoking paisley wallpaper and tea sets. I don’t think it looks like Snoop Dog’s jewel-encrusted crown or Kate’s foetus, but I honestly don’t know what it looks like. Hey, I’m a scientist, not a marketing guy.

However, it occurred to me reading this week’s paper that our solution may be at hand. Our good friends at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have already provided us a handy new motto, and they are already splattering the new logo all over the roads South of the Fraser:

Artist’s rendition – I haven’t seen the actual signs.

Goodbye “Royal City”. Hello “Toll-Free Alternative”.

That’s right, we think of New Westminster as a community where we live, work and play, where we raise our kids, do our shopping, go to the park, and spend our idle time polishing our crown motifs and complaining about the Socialists. The Ministry of Transportation sees New Westminster as a place where drivers who don’t wish to pay for use of the $3.3 Billion bridge they were all clamoring for can instead zoom along surface streets, past our residential driveways and through our school zones! We have arrived! .

Think of all the tag lines opportunities:

“400,000 drivers a day can’t be wrong!”
“Stay for the stop lights – then please move along”
“Our pedestrians may be slow, but at least they’re soft!”
“Don’t have $3 for a toll? We have dollar stores!”
“If you lived here, you’d enjoy this traffic all day!”
“We put the ‘rough’ in Thoroughfare!”

Again… maybe I just don’t get marketing.

UPDATE: Astute reader and man-about-town Jeremy pointed out to me that “Royal City” isn’t really a motto, it is more of a nickname. You should take all of those times above where I misuse “motto” and stick in “moniker” or “nickname” or some such word. I would do it, but I’m lazy, and busy, and tired from a hard curling weekend.  

This is vitally important because the City already has an official big-M Motto right there on its Wikipedia page: “In God we Trust”. And there’s nothing dated or old fashioned about that!  

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