The new town bridge will honour the late Jack Tennant, longtime newsperson and community leader, when it opens next fall.

Last night, town council ratified a public, largely online vote that saw the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge top the list of 11 finalists ending a year-long process that gave residents the opportunity to name the newest and most expensive piece in Cochrane's infrastructure.

Other finalists were Chief Walking Buffalo Bridge (Tetanga Mani), Veterans Bridge, Bow Bend Bridge, Cowboy Crossing, Cochrane Crossing, Riversong Bridge, James Walker Bridge, Oyada Bridge, Moore's Crossing and Helping Hands Bridge.

What started as a push to have the new Bow River crossing named the Veterans Bridge became a public vote, largely fuelled by an online process by the town. In the end, a respectable 2,130 votes were received.Jack Tennant. (Photo Courtesy of Ian Tennant)

Councillor Tara McFadden, who originally presented the motion to let the public decide, was pleased with the process.

"I think also having Jack Tennant recognized on a bridge naming was a lot of what Jack was about to me in that he really did connect different worlds, connect different people and connected people, period. So I think the public chose well and I'm certainly glad to endorse and support the public naming of this bridge."

Mayor Jeff Genung said Tennant had a talent for creating links and overcoming barriers. He engendered a level of trust by speaking openly about his life.

"He had the unique ability to bridge the span that all too often divides people," said Genung.

"His accomplishments both personal and professional always go back to three things: his character, his humility and humanity."

Because the Stoney Nakoda people gave Jack the name "Gentle Buffalo" and Chief Walking Buffalo Bridge was the second favourite name in the vote, Genung believes there is the potential of incorporating those themes into the bridge's art. 

With Jack's grandchildren at her side and several generations of the family present, his wife Brenda Tennant said the family is honoured to have the bridge bear his name.

"We are so honours to have this named after Jack," she said. "He had such a passion for this community and we so look forward to next year when the bridge is done."

She appreciated the comments about Jack.

"You're absolutely right, he was all about connections; connecting people, connecting the Stoney Nakoda Nation with Cochrane and we couldn't be more pleased. Thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts."

The community mourned when Jack passed away on May 20, 2018. Calling Cochrane home since the 80s, his publications and thought-provoking columns had an impact. In addition, he was involved in many community organizations and causes and created a strong tie with the Stoney Nakoda Nation.

Last January Councillors Morgan Nagel and Alex Reed had jointly sponsored a motion to name the bridge in honour of veterans. Council had a different idea and wanted the public to decide. The process was modified along the way to include 11 proposed names in the final vote. Originally, the residents were to choose from the three names at the conclusion of the process.

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