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Cobourg council hears Victoria Square plans

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

Cobourg council meets at Victoria Hall.

Cobourg council meets at Victoria Hall.


Dormant for more than a decade, the final Phase IV of the Victoria Square project is resurfacing.

Council heard more details at this week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting through a presentation from William McCrae and Lisa Cullin of the CIMA company — which has worked with a Cobourg committee that chief administrative officer Stephen Peacock said contains members from all the town’s advisory committees.

While the Canada 150 grant that would have allowed it to proceed did not work out, Peacock said, fundraising will be commencing to bring it about at a later date than originally planned.

McCrae said Phase IV will establish three incarnations of Victoria Square: market mode, market mode and event mode.

Business mode is the every-day look, which will be changed with several additions: a big central pole in the parking lot that can be decorated for special occasions or used to support special lighting fixtures, plus three 12-ft.-wide walkways that are big enough to double as outdoor stages — on the east and south sides of the Firehall Theatre, and on the east side of the Market Building — which will take away some of the parking spaces.

For the other two modes, Albert Street will be closed off to add to the capacity. Curbing will be taken away and an interlock surface installed to provide a smooth surface over-all for these uses.

Market mode is the typical set-up for the Saturday Farmers’ Markets. They estimate 41 10-ft.-sq. tents can be accommodated.

For event mode, the stages can come into play and seating can be set up.

Strategically placed plantings and steel bollards (which can also hold electrical outlets) will give the suggestion of a narrow roadway on Albert and Second streets so that drivers will proceed with more caution (to make the area more pedestrian-friendly).

Public art submissions have been juried, and the four pieces selected will sit on 13-ft.-tall black pillars at the four corners of the square.

McCrae estimated a project cost of $1.5-million. Fundraising and sponsorship opportunities will be pursued, and engraved pavers will be sold as they were for the original Victoria Square project in 1997. But Cullin pointed out that pavers have come a long way since 1997.

They are more durable these days, with a tougher finish and deeper cuts for the letters. And they are larger to allow for more lettering per stone, which is an attractive feature.

Asked about the lifespan in years for these pavers, however, Cullin could not provide a specific number.

This work can be phased in as the money becomes available, McCrae said.

“But the critical part is to have the overall plan so you know how it fits together.”

Councillor Debra McCarthy pointed out that the main bus terminal is near the square on Albert Street. Would these street closures force buses to be rerouted, she wondered.

“Yes, I would think with Albert Street closed it would have to be rerouted,” McCrae figures.

“That really isn’t a detail we looked at, but that would be a necessity, I think.”

Committee chair Malcolm Wardman also chaired the committee that began the Victoria Square project back in 1997. The committee has two other veterans of that group on board for 2017, he added — Miriam Mutton, who was originally the design consultant, and Jim Doubt, originally the engineering consultant.

They had to fundraise to get that started as well, he recalled, and name-paver sales proved very popular. They phased in the project and got great support from both citizens and service clubs. In addition to $300,000 in donations, there in-kind gifts such as donations of street furniture.

After three phases, he reports, they ran out of funds and out of energy.

“I was overjoyed to be asked to chair when the committee was revived in June 2016,” Wardman said.