Name that alley in the name of more fun

Gastown has Blood Alley, Chinatown has Shanghai Alley and soon Lower Lonsdale could have a uniquely named lane of its very own.

Last spring, North Vancouver resident Roma Wilson co-founded the More Fun Alley Association under the mentorship of Tyler Russell, owner of the Café for Contemporary Art. The association aims to turn alleys into cultural and community spaces. The association is now launching a contest to name the stretch of lane between Esplanade and First Street east of Lonsdale Avenue.

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"It would be nice to give it a descriptor because sometimes it can be a little bit tough to refer to an alleyway just by street names or by landmarks," Wilson said.

"By naming the alley, we hope to also create a connection between the alley and the residents and small business owners who call the alley home."

The Name That Alley contest runs Sept. 2 to 5. Residents are invited to enter as many name ideas as they please on the More Fun Alley Association's Facebook page, or in person at the Café for Contemporary Art on Esplanade.  

"The only criterion for the names is that they be fun and creative," said Wilson.

A team of judges will pick a name on Sept. 6. Two Daughters Bakeshop and Rayne Longboards have donated prizes for the person who submits the winning entry.

While the new alley name may not show up on Google Maps, Wilson hopes it will find its way into the community's collective geographical vocabulary.

"The contest is more of an unofficial, fun contest. Eventually if the name catches on and gets popular then I guess there could be a small ceremony down the road to acknowledge the name."

Wilson said she was inspired to get involved with the More Fun Alley Association after seeing successful alley improvement projects in Seattle, Wash., and Australia.

"I thought, 'Why not try to do something like that here in North Vancouver?'" she said, explaining that alleys needn't be thought of as crime-ridden, graffiti-laden places.

Earlier this summer, Wilson and a team of volunteers built a "tire garden" out of colourfully painted rubber car tires, which they decoratively placed in the same lane Wilson is now hoping to name.

"One of the core values of the More Fun Alley Association is reducing and reusing stuff," she said, adding, "Next year I'd like to do urban gardens in alleyways."

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