Neighbourhood names are a way neighbours connect with their space, block, and area within the city. These names help:

  • Promote a sense of neighbourhood pride and care
  • Strengthen connections between neighbours
  • Build neighbour connections to place
  • Foster a sense of belonging and cohesion

About this program

There are a number of areas of the City of Waterloo that do not have a name used by neighbours. The Neighbourhood Naming Program provides information and support to help neighbours that live in areas without a name, work together to create one. Check out the neighbourhoods map to see if your neighbourhood has a name. If not, you and your neighbours can reach out to the neighbourhoods team to explore support!

How do you start developing a neighbourhood name?

There are six main steps to help develop a neighbourhood name (outlined below). The process and time to complete a project will be unique for each area, however we estimate it will take roughly 1-2 years to complete.

Step 1: Explore the history of naming spaces

It is important to take the time to learn, explore, and reflect on the history of naming when thinking about naming your neighbourhood. Having a name that is researched and decided on by the community can help create a common sense of identity and connection to a space.

Neighbours interested in leading a naming project in their area are encouraged to learn about the history of naming and explore how colonialism, racism, and sexism, have impacted place names. By reflecting on how we create names and where they come from, we can develop names that make sure everyone feels a sense of belonging. Check out the resource section at the end of this page to learn more about the history of naming spaces.  

Neighbours that participate in the program will be provided with a learning document to help you with this first step. Local resources, like the library, are a great place to learn more too!


Step 2: Developing neighbourhood boundaries

Once you and your neighbours have taken the time to learn about naming practices and history, the next step involves exploring geographic boundaries for your neighbourhood. Work together with city staff and other interested neighbours to pick boundaries that make sense and fit well with other neighbourhoods in Waterloo. To review neighbourhoods that have names and their geographic boundaries, check out the neighbourhood map.

When determining boundaries, it is important to consider the following:

  • Size and how many neighbours live in the area
  • Other neighbourhoods near you
  • Built boundaries, like major roads, trails, and railways
  • Natural features, like rivers, forests, green spaces, and parks
  • Businesses and other major facilities
Step 3: Connect and communicate with neighbours

Once you have set boundaries, reach out to neighbours within this area to share your ideas, gather feedback, and build community support.  Think about creating a group of neighbours who want to work together on this project. The more neighbours involved in the naming process, the better!

It is important to talk to your neighbours when choosing and celebrating a neighbourhood name.  You can stay connected with your neighbours through online platforms like social media or email or through in-person meetings.

Reach out to the neighbourhoods team for help planning meetings in local parks, setting up online meetings, printing flyers and letters, and more. 

Step 4: Explore your neighbourhood history and stories

It is helpful to research and explore your neighbourhood and its stories when developing a neighbourhood name. Here are some great ways to start:

History of the space

To explore the history of your area, think about these questions:

  1. Are there any industries that operate or previously operated in this space?
  2. Are there any cultural or heritage buildings in the area?
  3. Are there any older buildings or artifacts that might tell a story? (public artwork, major streets, or intersections)
  4. Is there a natural landmark, like a stream, tree, or river, which may be important? (parks and greenspaces, trails, bodies of water, gardens or unique plants)

To help you find out more about history of space, ideas for exploration include:

  • Check out the resource section below for information that you and your neighbours can use when exploring these questions.
  • Explore your neighbourhood and look for things that are historically significant, like buildings, industries, natural areas, or parks. Then, you can start learning more about them.

Explore heritage sites in your neighbourhood. Use the City of Waterloo’s Municipal Heritage Register to explore properties with cultural heritage value. Do research and work with local organizations and resources to find any toxic or negative history. We want to make sure that the future neighbourhood name is thoughtful, welcoming, and inclusive for all community members.

Neighbourhood stories

In addition to the history of the space, connecting with fellow neighbours can help you collect important information about your area. While connecting with neighbours, think of these important questions:

  1. Are there any spaces in the area that are special to you and your family?
  2. Do you have any fun neighbourhood memories that reflect the local space?
  3. How long have you lived in the space and are there certain memories that reflect your time here?
  4. How do you refer to the space where you live? Do you or fellow neighbours share a name for this space, although it may not be formally recognized?
  5. When you think of your home and the community surrounding it, how would you describe it?
  6. Are there any symbols, places, or even colours that signify this space?
Step 5: Name your space

Once you are done researching your space and gathering a list of resident stories, it is time to collaborate and develop a name. When developing your name, consider these tips:

Focus on connecting with neighbours for feedback

When brainstorming and deciding your space name, make sure to connect with neighbours throughout the process. Neighbours need to be involved in creating the shared name to feel connected to the outcome. To get more people involved, you could have a contest or campaign to come up wit a name. Neighbours can suggest names or vote on a list made by the group.

Use research and neighbourhood stories

Use your research to create names that are representative of your neighbourhood spaces, its history, features, and neighbours’ thoughts, memories, and feelings. Work with interested neighbours to create a short list of potential names based on your findings, then consult interested neighbours.

Select an appropriate and inclusive name

Work with the city staff and neighbours to select names that are respectful, positive, and culturally sensitive. If neighbours are submitting name suggestions, evaluate the submissions and research the origins of the names.

Step 6: Promote and celebrate your new name

Work together with neighbours to lead a project that promotes and celebrates the shared name and identity.

Some ideas to celebrate your neighbourhood name include:

  • Public art
  • Neighbourhood signage
  • Celebration event
  • Swag

Neighbours can access neighbourhood grants to support the costs of identity projects. Check out our funds page for more details. Needs may include:

  • Standard printing, event equipment rentals for available items, and park booking permits. These are items that can be provided in-kind by the city.
  • Expenses related to events and celebrations, such as entertainment, food, decorations, games and activities, and space rental fees.
  • Artists fees to create public art reflecting the neighbourhood name and stories such as murals, park features, or displays.
  • Payment to graphic designers or artists to develop a logo.
  • Costs associated with developing and installing neighbourhood signage.
  • Costs of developing neighbourhood swag such as tote bags or clothing.

For more information about each type of project and the process required, reach out to the neighbourhoods team.

Celebrating an existing neighbourhood name

Although neighbourhoods with names are not eligible for the Neighbourhood Naming Program, neighbours in these spaces can still explore projects that promote and celebrate their shared name and identity. Strengthening your existing identity will help promote relationships between neighbours, connections to space, and an overall sense of belonging.

Consider these steps below to guide your planning: 

  1. Use inspiration from above to plan a project to celebrate identity in your neighbourhood.
  2. Connect with the neighbourhoods team to discuss your idea.
  3. Plan your project with a group of interested neighbours.
  4. Apply for neighbourhood funds to support your project or explore other models of funding, such as organizing paid swag.
  5. Secure necessary approvals and supports from the neighbourhoods team, artists, local businesses, or other contacts based on your idea.
  6. Celebrate neighbourhood identity through your project.

Resources 

This sections provides helpful resources for neighbours interested in developing a neighbourhood name and celebrating their identity. If you'd like more information, reach out to the neighbourhoods team

Local resources
Neighbourhoods website resources

Other helpful how-to guides can be found on:

  • Creating inclusive communities
  • Painting streets and sidewalks
  • Establishing and managing a neighbourhood Facebook group
  • Planning a neighbourhood event