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Three Rivers needs to figure out who it is, and soon, because businesses are feeling the brunt of the amalgamated community’s identity crisis.
At last week’s town council meeting, it was revealed that the branding launch for the relatively-new community was being held back because support from residents wasn’t where it needs to be.
Insight Brand and Marketing has been hired for more than $10,000 to develop the town’s brand. The plan was to roll out the brand in time for Canada Day celebrations in Cardigan and Lorne Valley.
But that didn’t happen. Council is being cautious because it wants the former communities onboard with a new brand.
In fact, council is being too cautious.
Regardless of how the new community brands itself, residents are not going to stop identifying themselves as being from Cardigan or Georgetown or Montague anytime soon.
Unincorporated areas that didn’t have a say with amalgamation are likely never to recognize themselves as a part of Three Rivers.
The same can be said for other amalgamated areas. People still tend to identify themselves as being from Sherwood or Parkdale rather than Charlottetown. And, a resident ordering a pizza or calling a cab in Dartmouth or Bedford isn’t going to give their address as a street in the in the Halifax Regional Municipality. They’re going to say Dartmouth or Bedford, and everyone understands what they mean.
If the Three Rivers plan is to develop a slogan and logo, then do it and move on.
Who knows, over time, younger generations might even start calling themselves “Three Riverites” or something like that. It’s doubtful, but it’s possible.
In the meantime, Three Rivers needs to fix its website. One business owner is critical that Georgetown’s former official website is being redirected to third-party websites or the new Three Rivers website that lack business and tourist information on Georgetown.
Tourists searching for information are going to be confused when they try to access information from a town’s reliable official website only to be redirected elsewhere.
This is adding more frustration for residents that are still trying to cope with the idea of amalgamation. It’s been a long road for these communities prior to, and since, Three Rivers officially became a municipality on Sept. 28.
This isn’t to say that trying to create community solidarity through an agreed upon brand isn’t a positive goal.
Yes, a new brand for the amalgamated community is nice, and may even find a place as a bumper sticker on a few cars.
But at some point, community leaders in Three Rivers need to be mindful that residents may never identify with the new municipality or its brand.
For those residents, they’re simply not from Three Rivers, despite what a map says.