In last fall’s federal election, voters in Ontario cast 5.2 million ballots. Over the next four and a half days, Woolwich is hoping to surpass that and cast 5.5 million votes in support of its Hockeyville aspirations.
Voting for the final round of CBC’s Hockeyville competition starts at 11 p.m. today (Saturday) and runs until midnight on Mar. 4. Voting is unlimited, and residents of Woolwich are being challenged to see just how many times they and their friends can vote.
“It’s a short window of time that we’re asking people to do this,” said Hockeyville committee member Sherrie Cochrane Goss. “We won by less than 4,000 votes to make it in the top 5, so truly every vote counts.”
Woolwich is up against Terrace, B.C; Humboldt, Saskatchewan; Harbour Grace, Newfoundland; and Thetford Mines, Quebec. All five communities are vying for the top prize of $100,000 for arena upgrades and a NHL exhibition game to be held in their home arena.
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The Woolwich Hockeyville committee has organized a voting faceoff rally, which starts at 10 p.m. in Gore Park. Former NHL player Cam Stewart, who played for the Elmira Sugar Kings before signing with the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, will be on hand to sign autographs.
After the rally, people will head over to the arena to start a marathon voting session. The rink will be open for a free community skate until 7 a.m. Sunday.
The committee has organized voting stations in the youth centre and the hallway outside the Dodi Hummel room, so people can vote while they watch hockey games.
Cochrane Goss said the idea for a computer station was born during the last round of voting. Mothers of the Major Atom team brought half a dozen laptops and voted while their sons played.
“Your child needs to be there an hour before the game, so potentially you have two hours that you’re at the arena. For a full two hours, we had people on those laptops, and we were able to watch the game. It was fantastic.”
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast has done her part to drum up support, shooting a video ad that will play on CKCO-TV, encouraging people to vote. On Thursday, students at schools in Woolwich and Wellesley brought home flyers and business cards with voting information.
Cochrane Goss said people have rallied to donate computers and spread the word.
“Once people saw how important this is, and saw how the community came together – and I mean the larger community, not just Elmira, but all the surrounding areas – I think people really just got excited and said, you know what? This really is a possibility.”
Voting can be done three ways: by calling 1-866-533-8066; by texting “Vote Woolwich” to 222111; or online at www.woolwichhockeyville.ca.
“We just need people to vote. When you have 10 minutes. Vote on your lunch hour. Use your phone, use your computer. Vote, vote, vote, vote vote.”