British Columbia

Prince George's Mr. PG may have to make way for new development

Rising land values are calling the future of two Prince George icons — Mr. PG and the Roll-A-Dome — into question.

Rising value of land around highway intersections could force out Mr. PG and the Prince George Roll-A-Dome

Mr. PG has been Prince George's mascot since 1960. The Roll-A-Dome can be seen in the background on the right-hand side. (The Exploration Place)

Rising land values are calling the future of two Prince George icons — Mr. PG and the Roll-A-Dome — into question.

Councillor Jillian Merrick wondered about Mr. PG, a faux-wood lumberjack and city mascot, during budget talks on February 1.

"Are we certain that Mr. PG will stay where he is given the development that's likely to occur in that area?" she asked.

Mr. PG greets visitors at the intersection of Highways 16 and 97.

An earlier version of Mr. PG stood outside the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Centre in downtown Prince George. (Postcard, the Sam Carter Collection)

It's also an area that's been growing commercially with new car lots, hotels and stores driving up property values.

Merrick wondered about spending $150,000 to add a picnic table, trail and trees around Mr. PG given that the area is prime for development.

Planning and development manager Ian Wells confirmed there is interest in the lot, which is why the project is unfunded until 2018.

"There is some opportunities we'll be looking at in that area," he said.

"We can look at how Mr. PG fits in that overall plan in the future."

Roll-a-Dome also at risk 

Mr. PG isn't the only Prince George icon facing an uncertain future as a result of development at the intersection.

The intersection of Highways 16 and 97 in Prince George is being eyed by developers, according to city management. (Google Maps)

For the past two years, a group of residents has been trying to raise money to save the Prince George Roll-A-Dome, which stands just over a hundred metres away from Mr. PG.

Constructed in 1952, the building serves as a site for weddings, concerts, flea markets and sporting events.

It's also privately owned, and the shareholders have been approached by private developers to purchase the site, according to Prince George Dome Society founder Margaret Jackson

The society is trying to raise $1.5 million in order to purchase the building and turn it over to the organizations that use it.

No stranger to travel

For an inanimate object, Mr. PG has moved a lot.

He was first constructed to stand outside the Simon Fraser Hotel on downtown Quebec Street at the insistence of businessman and future mayor Harold Moffat. 

Mr. PG greets visitors to Prince George at the intersection of Highways 16 and 97. (Mark Armstrong Allard/Mr. PG Facebook page)

"He just thought Prince George needed a mascot to promote the forest industry and represent the city," Jeff Elder of the Prince George Heritage Commission said in a 2014 interview with CBC.

Soon after, a second 11 ½-metre version was made to travel around the province

"In 1961, Mr. PG won first place in the Kelowna Regatta and second prize in the PNE Parade in Vancouver and also appeared in the 1963 Grey Cup Parade in Vancouver," Elder said.

The stationary version also moved, from Quebec Street to a visitor centre on First and George.

In 1983, he was placed outside a visitor centre across the road from his current location.

He stood there until 2012, moving after the visitor centre was closed.

He's also appeared on postcards, T-shirts and an official Canada Post stamp.

Merrick clarified she didn't have any issue with spending money on making Mr. PG more inviting. She just wanted to be sure the landscaping wouldn't be a waste, if travel plans are in his future.

"He deserves some great landscaping. I just don't know if we've really decided that's his permanent home at this point."

With files from Ash Kelly.

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