Guest Editorial: We are Blaine, so much more than a harbor

Published on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 by Colin Hawkins and Angie Dixon

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It has been said that the harbor is the heart of our town. Yes, we live along a beautiful body of water, Drayton Harbor, and have the existing “Blaine Harbor,” which is where the boats are docked. However, not everyone may be aware that our existing “Blaine Harbor” is not owned by the city of Blaine. 

Our harbor is owned and operated by the Port of Bellingham. We don’t have an issue with the word “harbor;” it is a lovely word, but it does not define who we are. We are proud and blessed to live in such an amazing waterfront town, but Blaine is so much more than just our harbors. 

We are an international border crossing that connects Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle and beyond. We are home to a beautiful monument, the Peace Arch. We have lovely parks and beautiful views. Semiahmoo Resort is making a glorious come back, attracting locals and visitors. The potential and possibilities for this town are endless. 

With that being said, the real heart of this community is the people who call Blaine home. Some of them have been here for generations, some are new to town, some are traveling though and some are yet to come. Not all residents live near the harbor, or even within city limits, but they are all part of Blaine. 

Our school district is a huge part of this community and if you don’t think the school is part of this issue then you are just plain wrong. Our schools cannot afford to go through a costly name change, which would require everything from new uniforms to repainting the gym floors. 

No, the school “doesn’t have to change its name,” but it would be a shame to take our small-town feeling and add distance between the community and the school by giving them different names. To say, “It doesn’t matter if the school changes,” shows how disconnected some people are to ties in this community. 

We keep hearing, “If you don’t want to change then you can just keep using Blaine,” or “Not everything has to be changed.” If it is so important to change the name then shouldn’t it be reflected immediately on every sign, vehicle, T-shirt, mailbox and lamppost? 

One of the biggest problems facing the name change plan is that there is no plan! There is no clear answer as to what will change and what won’t. There is no clear time line for the change; we could conceivably be a “half-named” town for the next 20 years. And there is no clear budget or cost estimate for the name change. 

We have been compiling a list of the hundreds of items that will need to be changed. Are the people in favor of the name change aware of what these items are and their cost? 

For example: The four large “Welcome to Blaine” signs were $25,000; those will need to be replaced or altered. Blaine is a city with limited financial resources and to use any of our taxpayer dollars on this, whether it’s $1 or $100,000 is irresponsible. We would like to see our tax dollars go towards tangible items that will directly benefit the city, its residents and its visitors.

Yes, Blaine needs some work to reach its full potential. We believe we can promote and market a theme within Blaine without changing the name of the entire city. This name change cannot be looked at as a simple marketing tool; it is a long term, if not permanent, change to the name of our city. If it doesn’t work out we can’t just change it back. 

There is absolutely no proof that it will be effective. This is not a marketing tool that cities are widely using and having great success. In researching this, we have found research about corporate name changes and why they don’t work. Companies like Nike don’t change their name each time they want to market a new product. They market the product under the name Nike. We can market the existing Blaine Harbor, Drayton Harbor, Marine Park, downtown, Birch Bay, Semiahmoo, Peace Arch Park, etc. under the name Blaine. Again, we are so much more than just our harbor. 

We want everyone in Blaine to feel like they are part of this community, not just those who live near the harbor or within the city limits. If you are new to town or you have been here for generations, you are a resident of Blaine and you are the heart of this community. If the name Blaine genuinely means something to the people who call this home, and there is no proof that a change will benefit the city, then isn’t that reason enough to vote no? 

Here is a question that we’d like you to think about: Is there any other use of city tax dollars, time and energy that you can think of that would actually make Blaine a better place and not just sound like a better place? 

We don’t want to be a community divided over an unproven name change, so let’s all come together and work towards some real, substantial change. Get involved, attend meetings, and let your voice and heart be heard that we are Blaine, Washington.