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LETTER: Fountain must be preserved in renewal of Centennial Square


The Friends of Centennial Square is a group of Greater Victoria citizens declaring an interest in council’s intention to undertake a renewal of Centennial Square.

First and foremost, we want to express our wish and primary concern that the pivotal feature of the square, the Centennial Fountain, be preserved and restored. We value the fountain as a gift of our three adjacent municipalities to mark the building of the square in 1963 to celebrate the first 100 years of Victoria’s incorporation as a city. To this day the fountain remains Victoria’s primary example of modern public art, an emblematic landmark that has found a place in the hearts of citizens of the region and visitors alike.

We appreciate your observations that the square requires repair, restorations and updating. We note that the square was feted in its day and achieved national acclaim for its design excellence. It is one of our major heritage legacies from Victoria’s rapid post-war build-out, on par for instance with another major project of that period, the University of Victoria Gordon Head campus. Indeed, the two projects shared the same group of architects and designers.

Centennial Square, with its iconic fountain, marked the start of Victoria’s urban renewal project for Old Town. A significant moment in our modern history. The project combined both the conservation of historic buildings and a forward-looking contemporary design for the new.

In retrospect, the square can now be seen as a critical marker of the centennial era that culminated in the 1971 centennial of the union of British Columbia and Canada. This intent was further reinforced in 2007/8 with the addition of the Spirit Garden totem poles and Spirit Beach to recognize the First Nations cultural legacy which underpins the city. To summerize, we urge retaining the crucial focus of the fountain as an effective way to maintain a link between the original spirit of Centennial Square and its evolving future.

We are concerned that forthcoming public consultation might be minimal. We urge you to require a wide and well-considered discussion within our current regional community. The Friends look forward to helping inform and encourage creative, practical upgrades for Centennial Square. However, we remain absolutely dedicated to the retention of its superb and much-loved centrepiece, the Centennial Fountain.

Martin Segger, on behalf of

Friends of Centennial Square

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