New Brunswick

Officers' Square in Fredericton about to get $8.9M facelift

The city of Fredericton is moving forward with a new plan for the green space downtown, that will include a chilled rink and main stage. But it also means a loss of parking and space for the annual Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.

Additions to Officers' Square will include a rink and performance stage

New improvements at Officers' Square in Fredericton is expected to cost $8.9 million and construction will start in the fall of 2018. (Philip Drost/CBC News)

Officers' Square in Fredericton is about to get a whole new look. 

The city of Fredericton is moving forward with a new plan for the green space downtown, that will include a chilled rink and main stage. But it also means a loss of parking and space for the annual Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. 

David Seabrook, assistant director of growth and community services for the city, presented to city council at its regular meeting on Monday night.

"We're really pleased that council supported the project. Obviously Officers' Square is a jewel in the heart of downtown Fredericton," said Seabrook. 

"We've loved it to death. There are parts of it that are falling apart. It's been in desperate need of renewal for several years, and finally we're going to get at that project."

The walkway along the outside of the lawn will be a chilled rink in the winter months. (City of Fredericton )
The chilled rink will be an oval track going around the outside of the lawn in the square. The plan for the square also includes a performance stage, playground. It will also consist of a food and beverage area.

The project is expected to cost $8.9 million and construction will start in the fall of 2018. The project is expected to take four years to complete. 

What's going out

The metal fence along Queen Street will need to be replaced, said Seabrook. 

The plans include a place to get food and drink, along with a stage for performances. (City of Fredericton)

The Lord Beaverbrook statue will also need to be removed but Seabrook said city staff still don't know where it will be moved to. 

"I think it will either be relocated in the perimeter of the square, or at a place nearby that might relate to one of his philanthropic donations," he said. "That's still something we're working on and looking at." 

Harvest changes

Construction also means the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival won't be able to use the area as a venue in 2019, as the square will be closed all year.

"We'll have to work around the fact that investments will be made during the 2019 summer season and we'll probably have to make a few little changes to Harvest for that festival," said Brent Staeben, the festival's music.

The Harvest Jazz and Blues festival won't be able to use Officers' Square as a venue in 2019. (CBC)
Staeben said he has kept up with plans and has given feedback to the city on what could happen at Officers' Square.

In the long run, he said construction will be worth it.

"It's going to give us a fantastic new site and new assets to make Harvest even better in the future," said Staeben.

More design yet to come

The gateway that was taken away from Carleton Street during work there, will be put in as a gateway into Officers' Square.

But while the city presented its plans for Officers' Square, it's still in the designing process. 

The city will be looking to add public art to the area, and still has yet to design the playground and main stage. 

There is also work that needs to be done to make sure the public washrooms in the area can accommodate equipment for a chilled ice surface. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Drost is a journalist with the CBC. You can reach him on Twitter @phildrost or by email at philip.drost@cbc.ca.

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