By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Oshawa is looking to breathe new life into the empty expanse of concrete in front of city hall.
Civic Square, currently the home of a few benches, potted trees and a trio of picnic tables, will soon get a burst of colour and a few more places for weary pedestrians to rest their legs.
Catherine Richards, the city’s supervisor of cultural development, told the community services committee the project is a chance for the city to make Civic Square a vibrant piece of the downtown.
“This is really an opportunity to animate this space that is really essential to our downtown core,” she said.
Plans, which are slated to get underway in the next month and carry over into the summer months, include the addition of more tables and chairs, some with checkerboards built in. New portions of sidewalk are also planned on the existing portion of grass in the northeast corner of the square. These sections will cover existing footpaths pedestrians have made when taking the shortest routes through the area.
Plans are also in place to put a public piano in the square, similar to the one that sits in downtown Toronto’s distillery district.
As well, a pair of art projects is set to brighten things up in the square.
The retaining wall that fronts onto Centre Street will be painted with a mural. Richards says the intent is for the mural to be a community art project.
Along with that, there are plans to paint a massive pinwheel on the ground of the square, stretching from the entrance at Centre Street to the doors of city hall.
Several councillors were pleased with the project, which has an approved budget of $40,000. Councillor John Neal questioned what would be done with the space during the winter months.
Councillor Rick Kerr asked whether a skating rink could be a possibility, mentioning himself and councillor Doug Sanders had been investigating the possibilities of such a project.
Julie McIssac, the city’s manager of culture and centralized recreation services, said this project is really only the beginning.
“This is really phase one of what we would like to do with Civic Square,” she said, noting there are many options available.
Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki questioned the placement of an ice rink on the surface, which also serves as the roof for the city’s underground parking garage.