A new downtown ice rink has been included in the plans for the outdoor civic space accompanying the future municipal building. When construction wraps up next summer, the area is likely to become the town’s most prominent plaza-type outdoor gathering space.
During his presentation to councillors last month, site lead Greg Barsi painted a mental picture of walking south from the historic downtown over the upcoming pedestrian rail crossing.
“Once through the CP right-of-way, visitors will enter the plaza area site where they will find bike racks, benches, picnic tables, some loose seating in the civic plaza and a grassy area to the east,” he said.
“It will be a grassy area in the summer, a nice area with some trees and picnic tables, and will be able to be transformed into a skating area in the winter.”
While most of the existing trees on the vacant Railway Street site will have to be taken down, one will remain as a ‘feature tree’ anchoring the landscape design.
“It’s the tree currently furthest to the east on the site, which happens to be the largest and most healthy tree,” Barsi said.
“Unfortunately, the other ones will need to be removed. But we thought this might be a great focal point for the site during the winter holiday if we were to light it up, similar to the central park area where we’ve got a skating rink and a big Christmas tree.”
For the outdoor public area around the building, there are plenty of material considerations. They’re considering some railway trestle-style wood features, and hoping they can get some ‘Cochrane brick’ in the mix as well.
“You will see use of copper and brick, coloured concrete with various textures, wood strucures with interlaced steel reinforcements, and a variety of native plants,” Barsi told councillors.
“We have harvested some actual ‘Cochrane brick’ and we are going to have to evaluate whether or not it will stand up to the traffic. If it won’t, we will emulate it within the design.”
“The Cochrane brick, I don’t know why I get all sentimental with Cochrane brick,” said councillor Patrick Wilson.
Other features likely to be included in the outdoor area surrounding the upcoming building include seating throughout, a smaller separate shelter, flagpoles, bike racks and raised planter beds.
“Keeping the feature tree is great, and of course identifying more skating is clearly keeping with the times,” said councillor Tara McFadden.