The Redesign of Civic Square - Part 1

By Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2023



This is a long story so I have broken it up into three parts.

City Hal released a plan last week to redesign Civic Square.  The three parts are:

What was done before the plans that are now before the public?
What did the Staff report have to say in their report to Council ?.
And how did council react

In December of 2018 the city budgeted $600,000 for upgrades to Civic Square, the space to the south of city hall.

Civic Square as it is today.

Many of the improvements were required to improve things like accessibility, safety and convenience.

The city held an on-line survey with renderings of the new look; it was poorly promoted and the results of that survey were never made public.

At the time there was one 28 storey tower planned for the west side of Brant Street on the north side of James. The plans were approved and the tower is nearing completion.

The first tower to be built directly across the street from City Hal – 28 storeys. Construction close to completion.

Plans for a second tower on the south side of James have not been completed. They did have approval for 17 storeys and that is where that second tower sits.

The city had embarked on improving what they called Customer Service, gave it the initials CSX.

The first run at that idea stumbled getting out the gate. A former City Clerk was assigned to improving the team; some progress was made. The wrinkles got worked out, the software being used was upgraded. The former Clerk left for greener pastures – retirement.

The second tower that will be opposite City Hall – on Brant south side of James Street. Construction has yet to start.

Covid entered the picture, many staff worked from home and the city used the opportunity to remake the ground floor of city hall – you will not recognize the place when it is opened to the public. Expect a major photo op event when that happens.

Inside City Hall will look and feel a lot different. A visual was prepared to give the public a sense as to what was in the works.  Take the 33 second flyby to see what the end result is expected to look like

When the changes to the inside of City Hall were taking place little attention was paid to Civic Square other than mention of a new entrance, some reshuffling of things in Civic Square – more flag poles, some trees and plans to either get rid of the fountain or move it.

The noise and dust from the renovations proved to be more than staff could put up with if they were going to get any work done.

The Customer Service department was moved to the Sims building, which is on the southern side of Elgin Street.. The city bought the building for $17 milliom about five years ago.

Parts 2 and 3 to follow.

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