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Civic Plaza changes go ahead
The public had the chance to see the proposed enhancements to the Civic Centre Plaza Tuesday during two open meetings, giving residents a chance to view the final concept chosen by the firm engaged by the city for that purpose.
The project was part of the agreement that won the city the right to host the Canada Winter Games, entailing the enhancement as well as renaming it to the Canada Winter Game Plaza.
However, Coun. Cameron Stolz said though he liked the design, he’d prefer the money be put into creating a different green space in the city, a larger one on the eight blocks of city property by the Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC), which is under construction, pointing out the $500,000 being used to enhance the plaza could instead be added to funds garnered to create the other green space.
Stolz said usually a city green space is surrounded by retail outlets, drawing more people to it to gather, relax or enjoy lunch. He said he took part in a seminar in 2008, where a large central park area was recommended for cities.
“Is there a better green space that can be created for the money?” Stolz asked.
Colleen Van Mook, director of city service contracts, was questioned about the agreement between the city and the Canada Winter Games committee, and whether there was an opportunity to ask if the agreement could be amended.
Van Mook explained the Civic Plaza was chosen by the city as the legacy area, then accepted by the Canada Winter Games committee, then confirmed. A memorandum of understanding was signed, and athletes will use the area, so near the athlete village, to congregate and enjoy one another’s company.
“There are 542 days left until the Games. It would be difficult to change,” she said. “We could look at it, but I’m concerned about the timing.”
The rest of council expressed their concern about changing direction at such a late date as well, many of them pointing out the magnitude of the work already completed.
If council changed directions on the project, then everything would have to begin again.
Although Stolz wanted to postpone a vote on the agenda item, the rest of council did not.
Coun. Murry Krause pointed out, as head of the Prince George Centennial committee, he was one of those who endorsed the project as presented in June.
He said he thought the project should go forward as is, pointing out that would not preclude going forward with a second green space on the eight blocks by WIDC.
“We will have two great green spaces downtown,” he said.
In the end council voted to endorse ‘the River’ theme as presented, but for Stolz. It unanimously voted to rename Civic Plaza, something than will occur in a ceremony on the 100th day out from the games.
The River design includes a stage that can be removed in the winter, takes the ‘wood first’ policy into consideration and will include a yet to be chosen vessel, something striking, that will contain a token representatives of other communities will leave, likely a stone.
Plants able to take the snow load as well as snow removal will be grown and First Nations will add cultural elements pertinent to their history.
Not only a meeting place, Mark van der Zalm with van der Zalm and Associates, the company in charge of the design, said the area be welcoming and useful, and he expects it to be a showcase for the city, a place to host field trips for children to learn something about the history and culture of the city.