Fredericton / News / Officers square

When We Gather in the Square - Accommodating Public Safety

Part of the conversation about the future of Officers’ Square revolves around the question of how we host larger public events safely.

Officers’ Square is where we gather as a community for concerts, films, and festivals big and small. These events that draw the most people in to enjoy the square. It’s one of the reasons we all love this historic space.

Big gatherings like Canada Day concerts, the Olympic Torch Relay or the broadcast of the final Tragically Hip concert can draw upwards of 10,000 people into Officers’ Square. These events allow us to celebrate in the heart of downtown. They bring millions in economic benefit by encouraging those downtown to visit local restaurants, pubs and shops.

A key challenge is keeping all those people safe.

On one hand, our police are concerned with preventing unwanted vehicles from entering large assembly spaces. This concern is aimed at stopping vehicles that could injure pedestrians, or worse. It requires the perimeter fencing around the square to be built to a stronger standard, while retaining the ornamental cast iron fence. If we are building new walls and fences, they should be built to accommodate new public safety concerns.

On the other hand, our fire department is concerned with ensuring that people on foot can get out in the event of an emergency. This means wider entrances and exits. Again, if we are rebuilding the wall and fence, we should accommodate these public safety considerations.

If we don’t, it simply won’t be possible to hold very large gatherings like Canada Day or other large concerts in Officers’ Square into the future.