Bridge renaming considered to honour late Guelph police officer

Councillors here are considering a request to rename a bridge in honour of late Guelph police officer Jennifer Kovach.

On May 4 Puslinch Mayor Dennis Lever told councillors about a recent telephone conversation he had with former Guelph city councillor Gloria Kovach, mother of Jennifer Kovach, a Guelph police officer who died after an on-duty accident in March 2013.

The mother explained “some friends of Jennifer wanted to go through the steps to renaming a bridge after her.”

Puslinch councillors were briefed on the detailed process required to rename a bridge.

Lever said he had also spoken to Wellington OPP detachment commander Scott Lawson, who is supportive of this type of memorial.

Lever noted it would be the Guelph Police Service that would actually be required to make the application.

One of the things required by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to move ahead is a letter of support from the municipality where the sign would be located.  Councillor Susan Fielding said the reason Gloria Kovach contacted Puslinch is that Kovach had hoped the renamed bridge would cross Highway 401 – and no such bridge exists in Guelph.

“But it would be nice to know which one bridge it is before agreeing with such a designation,” said Fielding. “Generally I am supportive, but not ready to give a blanket approval.”

Lever noted that once the matter falls into the hands of Guelph police, it would be them working with the MTO.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer noted there were several bridges crossing Highway 6 within the city limits.

Council accepted as information the additional guidelines presented at last week’s meeting.

The Highway Memorials for Fallen Police Officers Act allows for the naming of bridges and other structures on provincial highways “to posthumously recognize police officers that have courageously and unselfishly given their lives in the line of duty.”

The dedication signs are not intended to replace the existing system of bridge identification.

The police service the officer served in would coordinate and provide the following information to the MTO.

Final approval of a bridge dedication shall rest with the Minister of Transportation or his/her designate and must be obtained prior to proceeding with the implementation of a bridge dedication.

Ceremonies recognizing the dedication of the bridge are not allowed within the highway right-of-way and the police service will be responsible for the organization of any off-site ceremonies.