Ponoka’s new bridge has been christened with a name befitting the town’s railway history.
After carefully reviewing and considering all 165 submissions to the bridge naming contest, judges chose Siding 14 Crossing as the official name to recommend to town councillors, which was approved Nov. 22 during a regular meeting of council.
The winner of the Bridge Naming Contest, Lee Jensen of Ponoka, will be presented with a $200 Town of Ponoka gift certificate that can be applied toward a Ponoka Aquaplex membership or a Town of Ponoka utility bill credit. Jensen will be presented with his prize at the Dec. 13 council meeting.
Siding 14 Crossing
Siding 14 Crossing was chosen as the winning name for the new 50 Avenue bridge because of its important historical and geographical significance to Ponoka. Siding 14 dates back to the town’s early history. It was the very first name given to Ponoka when the railway first arrived here in June 1891. This location was the 14th stop along the rail line between Calgary and Edmonton.
The new bridge crosses the river just north of where the original Siding 14 railway platform was located, now the Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot. Siding 14 was a supply point for steam locomotives making the 12-hour Edmonton-to-Calgary run.
Two other community members submitted the same name – Siding 14 Crossing – and eight other people submitted variations of that name, which speaks to the popularity of Siding 14 Crossing as a favoured name for the new bridge.
The decision-making process
The judges decided at the outset of their first meeting that if they chose a name that was submitted by more than one person, they would place those identical submissions into a hat to draw a winner. Consequently, when Siding 14 Crossing was chosen as the recommended winning name, those three submissions were placed in a hat and a winner was drawn.
The panel held two separate meetings and took about a week between to allow themselves time for additional thought, and to research the historical significance of the submitted names before making a final decision.
During their second meeting, each member of the panel put forward names they felt should be considered as the winning name; four of the five judges selected names that included Siding 14 Crossing,
’14 Crossing or Crossing 14. After a full discussion of the names put forward, all five judges unanimously agreed that Siding 14 Crossing was the best name to recommend to council for the new bridge.
“I would like to congratulate Lee Jensen, the winner of the Bridge Naming Contest and everyone who submitted an entry into the contest. I think Siding 14 Crossing is a very suitable name for the new bridge because of its significance to Ponoka’s early history, and because it fits perfectly with our community focus of wanting to preserve and celebrate Ponoka’s heritage,” says Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett.
The five-member panel was appointed by council and each nominated by a community organization or committee: George Mackenzie, nominated by the Ponoka Drop-In Centre; Taylee Woytowich, nominated by the Ponoka Youth Centre; Alison Rowland-Klimec, nominated by the Heritage and Downtown Revitalization Committee; Sandy Allsopp nominated by the Fort Ostell Museum Society and Danny Lineham, nominated by the Ponoka Economic Development Board.
Bridge name to be displayed on new signage
The name Siding 14 Crossing will be displayed on signs that will be installed at both ends of the new bridge. The signs will be similar in design to the new wayfinding signs that will soon be installed to direct visitors and residents to key points of interest in Ponoka.
Siding 14 Crossing opened to traffic and pedestrians Aug. 8 replacing the old green bridge that served Ponoka for more than 100 years. The new bridge is also built to last 100 years or more.