Fredericton to remove decorative fencing at Officers’ Square over public safety concerns

Officers' Square is seen on August 24, 2018.
Officers' Square is seen on August 24, 2018. Reynold Gregor/Global News

The city of Fredericton will remove decorative fencing at Officers’ Square as a result of public safety concerns, the city announced on Tuesday morning.

The city says that the ornamental fencing, balustrades, and posts of the Officers’ Square fence along Queen Street will be removed in the coming days.

READ MORE: City of Fredericton proceeds with removal of five trees in Officers’ Square

The decision was reached after public safety risks were identified in June 27 by CBCL Consulting Engineers and are in line with a heritage permit received by the New Brunswick government.

“The fence sits on top of the stone wall, but in several places the mortar has dissolved and the fence is no longer supported by the wall. It’s unstable,” said Sean Lee, assistant director of engineering and operations.

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Both the city of Fredericton and Lee emphasize that the decision to remove the fencing are not part of the Officers’ Square project that caused tempers to flare earlier this year.

“As professional engineers, we are obligated by professional practice to follow the instructions and remove the public hazard. The decision isn’t connected to the Officers’ Square project. We’d be doing this whether or not there was a plan for the Square,” said Lee.

In May, approximately a hundred people showed up to a rally in  Officers’ Square to try and convince city officials to reconsider cutting down 19 trees as part of the city’s revitalization plans for the square.

Five trees were removed in July.

But don’t worry, the fence will not be destroyed once it is decommissioned. The city says the stone and the fence will be stored in a secure location for potential further use.

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New safety fencing will be installed along the Queen Street sidewalk in order to protect the public from “the significant grade difference between the Queen Street sidewalk and Officer’s Square.”

Crowd control fencing will continue to remain in place so as to keep people away from the retaining wall, the city said.

The removal is being conducted now ahead of large events — like the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival — that will be held in Officers’ Square.

“We can’t have thousands of people in the square during events and risk people getting hurt,” said Lee.