Saint John unveiled a piece of public art on Thursday afternoon that was several years behind schedule.

The "Shards of Time" was originally commissioned in 2010 to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the city's charter being signed.

The sculpture was supposed to be completed a year later, but it ran into a series of complications that delayed its unveiling.

Peter Powning, the sculptor, said the project started on time but was sidetracked by problems beyond his control.

Peter Powning

Peter Powning, an award-winning New Brunswick artist, created the "Shards of Time" sculpture that is now located on Saint John's Harbour Passage. (CBC)

“It's had its challenges in many respects. I had the bronze done within, you know, in time to do it the first year. So there was a lot of waiting,” he said.

The sculpture's location, along Harbour Passage, under the Saint John Harbour Bridge, also resulted in delays.

Troubles started when the control of the property moved from the city to the province during a major renovation of the bridge.

Peter Buckland, the chairperson of Saint John 225, said it took a long time to get a firm date on when the sculpture could be unveiled.

"But we continued to push and push and thanks to our contacts in the city … we finally got some answers and were finally able to install it,” he said.

Powning’s sculpture was picked by a seven-member jury from a group of 26 submissions from across Canada, according to the city.

The sculpture weighs six tons and is 3.6 metres in diameter, 5.5 metres wide and three metres high.

The piece of art is meant to look half-buried, similar to an archeological site, and there is a bronzed ban that encircles the shards. In the band are imprints of objects from the city’s past.

Harold Wright, a Saint John historian, contributed many objects linked to the city's heritage to the project.

He also offered up some of his mother's toys from the 1930s.

“I'm looking forward to seeing some of the school kids down here trying to figure out what all the different impressions are and how they fit into Saint John's story,” he said.

After such a long delay, Powning said he is encouraged to see such a positive reaction to the sculpture.

“People are engaged with it in a way that is satisfying,” he said.

“So you know, a lot of relief mostly. And I'm happy with it, which is always nice.”

For those looking at the sculpture, the city also launched an online feature that documents each of the impressions.