The city of Fredericton has a new project to beautify its streets — starting with the manhole covers.

Artists are being asked to submit designs for decorative manhole covers.

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Coun. Kate Rogers chairs Fredericton's arts and culture committee. (CBC)

Coun. Kate Rogers chairs the city's arts and culture advisory committee and says the city replaces up to 300 of the cast iron covers every year, so there won't be any additional cost for the project.

"It's an example of how we can do really interesting things and still be efficient," said Rogers. "That the city has a real focus on efficiencies and spending within our means, but by no means do we want that to stronghold us and suppress any of the interesting and wonderful things."

The award for the winning design is $1,000 and Rogers hopes to attract a lot of entrants.

"We have so many trained professionals living in our city, you know — visual artists and graphic designers," she said. "And we're certainly hopeful that they'll respond to this call and see the interest and intrigue in creating a design that can be so visible within the public realm."

Coun. Scott McConaghy, who chairs the city's public safety and environment committee, hopes artists have "fun" with the challenge.

“This is an interesting project where we are offering up the common manhole cover as a canvas for artists,” said McConaghy. "We hope that people will have fun thinking about their designs in iron.” 

The covers must include vent holes and two v-notches so they can be removed.

The city would like to see the year 2014 incorporated in the design in case there is a series of different covers in the coming years.

Submissions will be judged on originality, integrity, uniqueness and appropriateness to Fredericton, as well as their overall appearance and function.