Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • June-July 2023 • Circulation 5000

No to Marco Polo Way

The McCauley Community League is not supporting the idea of renaming 107A Avenue to Marco Polo Way. As an Executive, we have serious concerns about “Marco Polo Way” as an option, the process that has led us here, and the value of a name change in the absence of a clearly definable and well considered larger plan.

Perhaps the renaming of 107A is an idea that came into existence in an isolated “brain storming” session with a small group of our community members. However, the process of development, choice, and community vetting is seemingly absent.

Admittedly, the name proposed has a cute quality that could have some limited marketing value. However, a neighbourhood is not a theme park and creating quality neighbourhoods that are respectful, desirable, sustainable, and vibrant requires careful thought and planning. The McCauley Community League Executive cites the following as reasons for caution and concern related to the name change to “Marco Polo Way”:

The concept seems on the surface somewhat ill conceived and potentially undermining to, and disrespectful of, the Asian communities within the McCauley neighbourhood where 107A runs.

*The trade route described by Marco Polo was operational and known for thousands of years prior to the birth of Marco Polo. One should also be cognizant that even the “Silk Road” reference is time and area specific as at various points in its history these routes (or portions thereof) would have been recognized as a Tea Route, or Spice Road, etc. depending on the economic prominence of a given good or the controlling power of the trade route.

*The implied reference to the trade route uses the name of an Italian merchant to label a road route that itself carried a name. As such, it would seem more appropriate to name it after the route itself rather than a single merchant at a single point in the multi-thousand year history of said route.

*The trade route was primarily an “Eastern” route organized and controlled by eastern powers with the “West” serving a tertiary role both in trade and operation of the route. As such, referencing the route using an Asian reference rather than Italian reference may be more appropriate.

*Due to the primarily Asian history of the route and the equal importance of the Asian businesses and residential communities to the McCauley neighbourhood the identification and naming of 107A Avenue to Marco Polo Way could be perceived as, at best, overly Eurocentric or Colonial.

*Marco Polo’s father and uncle (Niccolo and Maffeo), were the primaries in the referred to journey along the “Silk Road” as ambassadors under the employ of Kublai Khan the invader Mongol emperor of much of the lands currently labeled as China. This occupation is considered as having been oppressive and brutal to the native population of the region. As such, the renaming of this road to refer to one foreign ambassador/merchant working for an occupation force could be offensive to the larger Chinese business and residential populations in the area (as well as city wide). This would seem additionally unwise in the light of the emerging importance of China as an international trade partner with Alberta generally and/or Edmonton specifically.

The concept seems on the surface somewhat ill conceived and potentially undermining to, and disrespectful of, the Asian communities within the McCauley neighbourhood where 107A runs.

Additionally, a community driven and created plan is not in existence for the renewal of our neighbourhood and it seems premature to be renaming our major corridors in an ad hoc way in the absence of a well vetted, respectful, evidence based, and expertly created plan (or even clear, widely recognized, and objectively measurable goals).

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