June 22, 2017 7:19 pm
Updated: June 27, 2017 11:29 am

Vancouver Art Gallery opening new plaza for some summer events

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The iconic Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza is getting a makeover for some summer events in the city.

Upgrades to the north side of gallery are finishing just in time for the annual TD International Jazz Festival on Saturday. But this is a soft opening. The next opportunity for the public to see the plaza will be during the upcoming Canada Day celebrations and the 4th Annual Thai Festival on the weekend of July 22 to 23. The plaza will be closed in between and after these events through the end of summer 2017.

“Now it’s a plaza that everyone can enjoy,” said City Councillor Heather Deal. “It will be a place where art comes, where music comes, where protests are held, and where the city can gather in a place that is iconic, central and has a great stage.”

READ MORE: Vancouver art gallery has painting snatched in broad daylight

Design features include:

  • A flexible space that can be used for solitary and small-group use, as well as large events.
  • A safe, inviting environment for formal and casual use.
  • A surface with pavers that will be long-lasting and durable for heavy use.
  • Full accessibility for all users.
  • A continuation of the Hornby Street maple trees, with new trees added along the west side of the plaza.

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Originally built in 1912, the plaza has taken on a different identity beyond art. The space has hosted a multitude of festivals, gatherings, and protests but required a much-needed upgrade.

“This has been a site where people knew to gather for play, for fun, to meet their friends, to dance or to protest,” said Deal.

In 2014, the City decided to permanently remove the Vancouver Art Gallery fountain, with upgrades to the north side of the gallery beginning last year.

WATCH: Art Gallery fountain to be removed for maintenance, but not put back

Bill Aujla, the general manager of real estate and facilities management with the City of Vancouver, commended the efforts of those that contributed to the redesign of the $9.6 million dollar project.

“We sought to recreate the plaza for the use and enjoyment of all residents and visitors to the city of Vancouver,” said Aujla. “Design a space that was as flexible as possible, so that solitary and small groups would be able to use it as comfortably as large festivals.”

Upgrades include new audio-visual connectivity for users to plug-and-play when they set up for their events.

Vancouverites can look forward to the opening of this plaza on Saturday, with finishing touches scheduled for the end of the summer.

The plaza will be maintained and managed by the City of Vancouver, and event organizers interested in using it can apply through the City of Vancouver’s special events office.

-With files from Amy Judd

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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