Officers’ Square Plan Revitalizes Fredericton’s Great Heritage, Cultural, Recreation Space

After an extensive public consultation process, the City of Fredericton has released its revitalization plan for Officers’ Square in the Historic Garrison District, Fredericton’s great public space.

The revitalization plan for the National Historic Site will be implemented as a multi-phase, multi-year project.  Heritage preservation is a central priority and the plan provides much-needed improvements to existing cultural, festival, and recreational infrastructure.

“This is a major revitalization project for our downtown. Officers’ Square is a great historic space with a national story to tell, but we’ve almost loved it to death. We’ve heard over and over again how important it is to our community’s cultural and recreational life. It has a huge impact on tourism and the economic vitality of our City. It’s a jewel,” said Deputy Mayor Kate Rogers.

“The Officers’ Square revitalization plan looks beyond this generation, or even the next generation.  It really sets the course for many decades to come. By implementing the plan over several years, in a multi-phase approach, it is designed as a pay-as-you-go project, sticking to our long term financial plan and accommodates our other major priorities,” said the Deputy Mayor. 

The revitalization of Officers’ Square delivers on the downtown City Centre Plan, the Historic Garrison District Master Plan, and the City’s new Growth Strategy, all of which were the result of extensive public consultation. The City’s Growth Strategy anticipates that much of the City’s growth over the next 30 years will happen in the urban core.

The plan, implemented over the next four or more years, includes:

  • Restoration and enlargement of the Square’s central green space
  • A new climate-resilient, chilled oval skating rink set within the square
  • A new rain-protected large performance stage for concerts and festivals
  • Improved plug & play electrical infrastructure for festivals
  • An intimate small stage for buskers and outdoor theatre performances
  • Locally-oriented food & beverage services
  • New & improved entrances designed according to current public safety requirements
  • Public art
  • Children’s playground
  • A small water-splash feature 
  • An enlarged multi-use event plaza

Phase one of the multi-year $8.9 million plan calls for the rebuilding of the stone wall along Saint Anne’s Point Drive this spring. The City will coordinate the project with planned road work to minimize public impact.  The Officers’ Square wall has reached end of life and requires significant work. 

The conceptual final design released today now goes into detailed engineering design. Some elements envisioned are only placeholders and yet to be designed, including:

  • The major performance stage
  • Children’s playground
  • Public art
  • Gateway features the corner of St. Anne’s Pointe Drive and Queen Streets
  • Expansion to the Garrison public washroom to accommodate equipment for the chilled ice surface

Officers’ Square, in the Historic Garrison District, is the location of the old British garrison and is also a birthplace of the Canadian Army with Company A of the Infantry School Corps established in 1883. It is home to the City’s ceremonial guard and many of the City’s biggest festivals, including Canada Day, the Cultural Expressions Festival, and the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.

The design is envisioned as a series of landscaped “rooms”, with a large grass public space within the traditional square of the old military parade grounds. On the perimeter of the site, pavers will be set in a design reminiscent of the City’s tartan.

The new Officers’ Square, a protected  heritage site, will allow for concerts to be held safely, with entrances and exits designed to accommodate larger audiences seen at events in recent years.

“This is a vital project for Fredericton’s downtown. It’s an important historic space, community gathering space, and festival site. This project has been years in the planning and Officers’ Square is obviously in serious need of a renovation,” said Bruce McCormack, General Manager of Downtown Fredericton Inc.

“Ensuring the future of this great public space is critical to the economic and cultural life of the downtown. We think the final result will be well worth the wait.”

Major work on the site will begin in the fall of 2018 and continue through 2019, with the chilled skating oval anticipated to open during the winter of 2020.