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‘SOS’ calls on New Brunswick to step in to protect Officers’ Square

Click to play video: 'Fredericton residents angry historic material removed from Officer’s Square' Fredericton residents angry historic material removed from Officer’s Square
WATCH: A group of Frederictonians fighting to preserve the heritage at Officer's Square is crying foul after historic materials were removed. Morganne Campbell reports – Sep 5, 2018

The ornamental fencing, balustrades, and posts of the Officers’ Square fence along Queen Street have been removed, prompting an outcry from those fighting to preserve the heritage at the National Historic Site and Provincial Heritage Place.

“It’s taken me days to come down and assess the damage,” says Beth Briggs, a member of Save Officers’ Square or SOS.

READ MORE: ‘It’s disappointing’: City of Fredericton proceeds with removal of five trees in Officers’ Square

It’s the culmination of a fight between the special interest group and the city that began in May.

City council wanted to cut down 19 trees as part of plans to revitalize the Garrison District and the square but the group opposed it.

July saw five trees taken down, but the pause button was hit on the project since then.

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“We were told by both the province and by the city that no further work would be done and that no further permits would be issued so yeah, it’s shocking that this has proceeded,” added Briggs.

Last week, the city announced plans to remove the fence citing major safety concerns. In a news release, an engineer with the city of Fredericton explained that the fence was extremely unstable and in fact, in far worse shape than previously thought.

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

So it was dismantled piece by piece.

According to structural engineer Tom Morrison, who focuses on the analysis and restoration of heritage structures, it wasn’t the city’s only option.

“You could also use micro-pile systems based relatively far apart or you could use angled-piles that could come in from the side. A lot of that is going to be best guided by detailed design and consultation with who’s doing it,” explained Morrison.

Similar projects are underway at other national historic sites such as the lock systems on the Rideau Canal and the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The group fighting to save the square says it wants the province to protect the site under the Heritage Conservation Act and for the city to form a committee that will ensure future plans won’t sacrifice the site’s heritage features.

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