Park renaming to honour slain hero Andy Moffitt - News - By Steph Willems Nepean/Barrhaven Local Community News
Park renaming to honour slain hero Andy Moffitt - News - By Steph Willems Nepean/Barrhaven Local Community News

Park renaming to honour slain hero Andy Moffitt

Posted Sep 30, 2010 By Steph Willems

 Andy Moffitt
Andy Moffitt
EMC News - For most people living in Barrhaven, the name Andy Moffitt is not instantly familiar and recognizable. He wasn't a veteran politician whose name is synonymous with the area, nor was he a powerful community leader.

But he did influence others with his hard work, compassion and community spirit, and inspire others with his final, selfless act of bravery. And this makes him as much a role model and hero to the residents of the community as anyone could aspire to become.

As his mother says, "His footprints are everywhere in Barrhaven."

Andy Moffitt died of a stab wound received as he intervened in a fight between a friend and a violent aggressor at an Ottawa restaurant on the night of Dec. 23, 1998. He was 23 years old, and had planned to drive home later that night to spend Christmas with his family.

By sacrificing his life to protect his friend, Andy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Bravery by the Governor General. Now the community he grew up in will commemorate his life and immortalize his name by changing the name of Edgeware Park (commonly referred to as Berrigan Woods) into 'Andy Moffitt Trail'.

City council approved the renaming on Sept. 22, and a ceremony scheduled for Oct. 27 will make it official. The renaming was made possible by the city's Commemorative Naming Program, created as a means to formally recognize individuals "who demonstrate excellence, courage or exceptional service to the citizens of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, or Canada."

Under the program, the names of municipal streets, parks or facilities can be created or changed to honour these individuals.

"This is a way of bringing Andy's spirit home," said his mother, Paulette Moffitt.

Ms. Moffitt explained that her and her husband, Rod, brought Andy to their new Barrhaven home when he was two years old. Between that time and when the family left to move to Brockville (when Andy was 17), Andy and his brothers Michael and Rod Jr. were involved in numerous sports in the community. He attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in his youth and Confederation High School as a teen.

"Andy and his brother were one of the first kids to take swimming lessons at the Walter Baker Centre," said Ms. Moffitt.

After moving to Brockville, Andy returned regularly to visit friends in Barrhaven, and eventually enrolled in Computer Engineering at the University of Ottawa. On the night he died, Andy was celebrating the end of exams with friends from the university.

Following his death, Andy's parents created the Andy Moffitt Memorial Scholarship Fund with his life insurance money. With help from the community and the province of Ontario, the fund was able to reach $158,000, and now assists students entering the faculty of engineering.

Andy's name gained nation-wide prominence when his parents fought to have a Private Members Bill (Bill C-393), calling for mandatory minimum sentences for crimes committed with knives, passed in Parliament. Ultimately, however, the Bill did not pass.

To preserve his memory, several months ago Andy's parents sought the help of Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder's office, appealing for his name to be included on something, anything in the community.

"A street name, something to keep him alive," explained Ms. Moffitt. "Within a few days we got an e-mail from Jan herself saying she would look into it...This (park naming) is almost like a dream come true for Andy."

Berrigan Woods is located to the north of Berrigan Dr. between Greenbank Rd. and Longfields Dr. It is one of the few large stands of trees in central Barrhaven. The location came to mind quickly as Coun. Harder talked to the Moffitts.

"The Moffitts are lovely people - they came to me seven months ago, still heartbroken," said Coun. Harder. "I started thinking about the trail in Berrigan Woods. (The application) went to the Commemorative Naming Program and the Community and Protective Services Committee approved it."

A large rock at the entrance to the trail will contain a plaque telling the public Andy's story. Ms. Moffitt said all of Andy's family will be at the ceremony on Oct. 27.

Coun. Harder said she was pleased that the naming program existed so that the Moffitts could get their wish.

"It's just one of the nice things that you can still do in the city," she said. "All my staff really understood what their desire was - we're really pleased that it worked out."

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother