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Comment: Let's preserve the Centennial Square fountain

Our Centennial Square and its fountain and tiara demands full heritage designation.
Centennial Square and its fountain in January 2024. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by a Fairfield resident.

Centennial Square exists as a metaphor for the vision its creators had for a positive future for our city, and their aspirations and hopes for its future and progress.

By contrast, any plan that includes a move to remove its core element is an insult to all who fostered its creation as a commemorative focal point for our city.

Do not the contributions of Oak Bay, Saanich and Esquimalt mean anything to this council? Further, to replace it with an unsuited, dogmatically inspired children’s splash park is an extra slap in the face to the citizens and those other municipalities whose inspiration and efforts built something this city has been proud of for decades.

Besides, how often do you see parents bringing children into the increasingly unsafe and inaccessible city core?

Ever-growing problems with random street violence make our downtown an unsuitable place to bring children, while access thereof has been made unnecessarily challenging by tortured navigation, created by poorly conceived and designed bike infrastucture, and reduced and increasingly expensive parking availability.

A number of years ago, Antonio’s restaurant was removed and the square was opened up on its south west corner. Likewise, improved access to the corner of Fisgard and Government was made.

These changes, made to improve flow to and through the square, have been rendered superfluous, now that even approaching the square has been made undesirable.

Any public money spent on the square will be wasted until these issues are addressed and people see downtown as a safe and welcoming destination.

Our Centennial Square and its fountain and tiara demands full heritage designation and the appropriate protection from those who wish to obliterate it and the memories of the visionaries, artists and architects who created an iconic monument to our city’s progress to that date, and their optimism for our future.

At the appropriate time, Centennial Square must be fully restored to its original promise. Its storefront on the northern edge needs to have those anonymous, blank windowed offices removed and replaced with colourful, dynamic occupancies.

The space under these very chambers need to be opened up and have its sightlines restored.

The current configuration has demonstrated its ability to host cultural events and markets and the fountain has oft served as a rallying point for citizens wishing to demonstrate their cause or celebrate an important cultural event. Maybe some of the fringe elements of the square need refinement to make them more current and a token children’s corner be introduced, if that is deemed necessary to rally enforcement measures to remove those the city deems undesirable, but the essence must remain.

Please preserve our fountain, and all that it stands for, and find a way to re-commemorate its aspirational role in our city.

The alternative is embodied in the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, wherein the Ark is shuffled off into the deepest recesses of an anonymous warehouse, into oblivion, and forgotten about.

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