New Brunswick

Fredericton saves 8 trees, pushes cost of Officers' Square plan to $9.1M

Fredericton city council has chosen a new design for Officers' Square that will save eight mature trees — four more trees compared to its original plan.

The new plan will push the overall cost of the Officers' Square project to $9.1M

Fredericton city council voted for option one, which will save eight mature trees in Officers' Square. (Submitted/City of Fredericton)

Fredericton city council has chosen a new design for Officers' Square that will save eight mature trees — four more trees compared to its original plan.

The new design will also save a large elm tree at the corner of the park between Queen Street and St. Anne's Point Boulevard 

Earlier this month, city staff presented council with two new designs for the downtown park. They did this after months of planning, revisions and consultations.

On Tuesday, council voted 8-4 for option one, which will add an additional $190,000 to the $8.9 million project. The new plan will push the overall cost of the project to $9.1 million.

The second option — which council voted against — would've sacrificed the large elm tree at the corner of Queen Street and St. Anne's Point Boulevard for a new corner entrance to the square. This would've provided more accessibility to the park. 

Public outcry

Beth Biggs said the Save Officers' Square group formed to save the trees in the park, but it eventually was about protecting the heritage of the park. (Jordan Gill/CBC)

Upgrades to the downtown park were on hold earlier this spring, following public outcry that 19 out of the 23 trees in the park would be cut down.

Beth Biggs, a spokesperson for the Save Officers' Square group, said they're happy with council's new plan.

"I think they have agreed to save the trees — which is what they were asked to do," she said.

The group formed out of concern for the trees in the square, but eventually broadened its scope to voice concern for the overall heritage of the downtown park. 

The new design will include the ornamental cast-iron fence to be re-established, which was originally planned to be removed earlier this year because of safety issues. 

A difference of opinion

Fredericton Deputy Mayor Steven Hicks was one of the four councillors to vote against option one.

Hicks said he preferred the second option because it gave more access to the park. 

"In the event that some emergency occur there — I think having the extra exit would play well to get people out of there," he said. 

Coun. Bruce Grandy said staff was asked to save as many trees as possible in Officers' Square, and is pleased with the new design. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Coun. Bruce Grandy, chair of the city's development committee, voted for option one and isn't surprised that was the design the majority of council voted for.

"We heard loud and clear from the public that they wanted that tree to stay, that they felt that these were iconic and part of heritage of the square."

A development that will force 19 trees to be cut down at Officers' Square will continue as planned, the mayor of Fredericton says. 0:53

Work is expected to begin on the site in the spring of 2019. Construction will begin with rebuilding the wall along Queen Street and St. Anne's Point Boulevard.

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

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