On November 5, 2018, City Council held a special meeting on the proposed renovations for Officer’s Square. This was in response to the public outcry to changes planned for Officer’s Square that would remove almost all of its current trees. At the special hearing, members of the public urged City Council to preserve the trees and heritage of Officer’s Square. A citizens’ group, Save Officer’s Square, organized a petition that garnered 10,500 signatures.
The heritage value of Officer’s Square is protected under New Brunswick’s Heritage Conservation Act as a Designated Heritage Place. Any proposal that might degrade the heritage value of a Designated Heritage Place must be approved by the Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.
Due to the flurry of public activism, the intended work on the square was slowed down, and the City modified the design to save the oldest trees on the site. Nonetheless, public concern has persisted as the stone wall surrounding the square has been partially dismantled.
As MLA for the riding in which Officer’s Square sits, I met with the new Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, Robert Gauvin, to ensure that he understands that the public concern for conserving the heritage of Officer’s Square is widespread. I also emphasized that his role as Minister is to ensure that when work is carried out in historic spaces, the preservation of unique and invaluable heritage is of foremost importance.