Voting is now underway to determine what the new Bow River bridge will be named.

Residents have until Feb. 28 to cast their ballots and have been provided with the option of voting online at letstalkcochrane.ca or on paper surveys available at the Visitor Information Centre, Seniors on the Bow and the Nan Boothby Memorial Library.

Council agreed to discard their previous arrangement of narrowing it to three finalists and have now included the top 11 suggestions from phase 2.

Residents are able to choose one name from this list presented here in the order of popularity from the second phase of the naming process: Moore's Crossing (316 votes), Cowboy Crossing (274), Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge (262), Chief Walking Buffalo (Tatanga Mani) 254, Helping Hands Bridge (240), Veterans Bridge (194), James Walker Bridge (186), Bow Bend Bridge (161), Oyade Bridge (134), Cochrane Crossing and Riversong Bridge, both with 111 votes.

There's been a reasonable response to the town's first vote to name a public structure. In total, 728 voted in the second phase where they were asked to select their top three in each category. Previous to this, 213 names were suggested and 39 did not fit the criteria, including Bridgey McBridgeface.

Mayor Jeff Genung says the town rethought the idea of offering only three names in the final vote and expanded the list with no other intention than giving the community ownership of the process.

"Right from the beginning we wanted this to be a community process and we just had an ah-ha moment around why are we limiting it to three and why council should be the one limiting it," he explains. "We were just putting ourselves in the middle of it and really we only wanted to make sure we didn’t get any weird or joke names."

He says he's aware there's been pressure from lobby groups, like those adamant to name the bridge after Jack Tennant, but says that had no impact on deciding upon producing a list of 11 names. Going with 10 names was a random decision and when there was a tie for 10th place it was expanded to 11.

He also recognizes coming up with a clear favourite is a challenge with such a long list. What he's more interested in is the number of people who vote.

"I’m very interested and I hope people get out there and vote. People have already started and I think we’ve had good uptake right out of the gate."

"I’m excited about how many votes we get and what ultimately is going to be the top name. I don’t think there’s a bad choice among the 11, so in the end, the community will have its way."

At the Jan. 28 council meeting, Councillor Morgan Nagel was concerned there's the opportunity to skew the results by those well versed in digital ballot box stuffing. He encouraged the town to take preventative measures.

Online it is clearly stated there's only one vote per Cochrane resident. Those voting are required to list their name, confirm they are only voting once, then proceed to select one. They are listed alphabetically.

The final name will be subject to consultation before being announced.

For full details and to vote, go to http://www.letstalkcochrane.ca/bridge/.

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