Neighbors harbor strong feelings about Blaine name change



Posted on May 16, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Updated Friday, May 16 at 7:49 PM

BLAINE, Wash. — It’s the start of the summer tourist season in the Canadian border town of Blaine. The problem is, most of the tourists crossing the border are passing Blaine by.

“There are a few of them,” said business owner Bill Becht. “There’d be a few more in town if we could get them off the freeway.”

That’s where City Councilman Clark Cotner comes in.

”Has anybody ever been to Gig, Washington? Friday, Washington?” he asks, referring to popular Washington harbor towns.

Cotner believes adding the word “harbor” to Blaine’s name would help move the one million Canadians that bypass the sleepy waterfront city every month to stop and stay a while.

“This is a beautiful place,” he said. “When you hear the word Blaine, it doesn’t say a lot. Blaine Harbor paints a picture in your mind.”

But some say it’s a waste of time and money. Patty Schneider was born and raised in Blaine. She thinks the plan could backfire.

“Tourists are going to come into town and look around and see there isn’t much here,” she said. “Then they’re gonna go back and tell their friends don’t go there because there isn’t anything there anyway.”

There’s also the issue of the costs incurred with a name change, everything from changing signs to putting the issue on the ballot. Opponents of the plan estimate costs as high as $100,000. All agree that a simple name change won’t do much. They believe a full business and branding plan is needed to put the city on the map.

“I think it’s worth considering, but I think it needs to be tied to things that will actually happen in the town,” said resident Fred Williams.

Cotner says he has such a plan, including a hotel and medical center.

Voters rejected a similar proposal in 2000 by fewer than 50 votes. The city council plans to vote on whether to put in on the November ballot on May 27.