Saskatoon City Council unanimously approves renaming bridge Gordie Howe Bridge

Saskatoon City Council unanimously voted on a motion this afternoon to rename the Circle Drive South Bridge after the late Gordie Howe.

Howe's sister 'wholeheartedly' agrees with renaming Circle Drive South Bridge after the hockey legend

Saskatoon city council unanimously approved a motion to rename a local bridge after hockey legend Gordie Howe. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Saskatoon City Council has unanimously approved the renaming of the Circle Drive South Bridge after the late Gordie Howe.

Coun. Darren Hill brought the motion forward Monday afternoon. He got the idea after a number of citizens of Saskatoon stepped forward with the idea. Once he floated the notion on social media, the concept took off like wildfire.

"There were 1,200 likes on the (Facebook) post itself," he said.

"This is easily the most active and engaged post or issue that I've dealt with in almost my tenth year on council."

Howe is a well-known NHL player who played for the Detroit Red Wings for more than 20 years, setting a number of scoring records. Howe, who is widely regarded as the most complete player in the history of the sport, died earlier this month at the age of 88. 

While he was born in nearby Floral, Sask., Howe spent his formative years in Saskatoon.

​Family approval needed

Before an official name change happens, Howe's family must approve the use of his name.

Howe's sister, Helen Cummine, is giving the rename a thumbs-up.

"I would wholeheartedly agree," she told CBC News of renaming the bridge after her late brother. 

"I really think he'd be quite proud."

Cummine said Saskatoon meant home for the hockey player, so it would be quite an honour for him had he been around to witness the decision. 

Bridge opened in July 2013

APRIL 1955: Gordie Howe, 27, is sandwiched between Floyd (Busher) Curry, left, and Emile (Butch) Bouchard of the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup final. (Associated Press)
The Circle Drive South Bridge opened in July 2013. While there have been calls for a contest to name the bridge, the original utilitarian moniker has stuck.

Hill said the issue illuminates a problem with how the city names its major projects.

"I think council dropped the ball when we didn't have a name ready for the opening of that bridge," Hill said.

"I think we need to do better moving forward and assign proper naming to our major infrastructure projects before they are opened and become familiar to the citizens."

Howe is also the namesake of the new international crossing that will connect Windsor, Ont. and Detroit. Its formal name is the Gordie Howe International Bridge and is expected to be completed by 2020.

CBC's Devin Heroux live tweeted the events from Saskatoon council this afternoon. On mobile? Click here.