When the city committee that looks after renaming local buildings and places finally got around to considering Russ Jackson, there was really no debate at all.
As a result, someday soon — hopefully very soon — the Hamilton legend who is arguably the greatest athlete this city has ever produced will see his name permanently affixed to some local landmark.
And Broadway Avenue, where he grew up, will be ceremonially co-named after him.
“Well that’s kinda nice,” the 79-year-old said when he heard.
He’s too quiet to say much more, but yes it is.
To be fair, the Hamilton Facilities Naming Sub-committee more than gave the project the green light on Tuesday when it finally landed in front of them a day after The Spectator lobbied for it to happen and a month after a local citizen named Mike Kennedy wrote city hall asking for it. The members essentially launched it into orbit with all the pomp and respect they could possibly muster.
“He’s always been not just a legend in sports but a legend in our community,” said Coun. Jason Farr.
“He’s one of the most outstanding Hamiltonians,” added Coun. Judi Partridge.
“He’s a great ambassador,” offered Coun. Terry Whitehead. “He’s a role model. He’s someone for our youth to look up to.”
It went on and on. Everyone raved about Jackson. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s terrific that this city is finally going to do something tangible to honour not just the greatest Canadian CFL player of all time but a man who worked in education after his athletic career was over and who is seen as a model citizen. It’s been too long that he’s gone without this.
Now comes the tricky part, though. What to actually name after him?
The initial suggestion was to rename a park in Westdale currently called the Westdale North Open Space after him. There were only two problems. One, none of the councillors seemed to have any idea where this actually was. And two, it’s owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens.
That’s when Partridge said what many were thinking.
“What else is there in this city we could attach the name of Russ Jackson to that’s more fitting that a park,” she said.
Many seemed to like the idea of a football field or something significant. Something that screams importance. Which is exactly correct.
For now, the question has been sent back to city staff to see what municipally-owned buildings or fields or facilities exist in Ward One — he went to school at Westdale and university at McMaster — that could take his name. A suggestion or two will be brought back to the committee next time it meets.
If agreement can be reached at that time, it will be brought to the entire council for a vote. An official naming could happen soon after.