Community: ONE Change spokesperson believes overhaul has had and will have positive effects on the neighbourhood
SAINT JOHN - Since the sprucing up of Victoria Square and Robertson Park, two buildings in the old north end have been purchased as rental investments by people from outside the province, a move that Tammy Calvin of ONE Change believes is a direct result of the overhaul.
Victoria Square is now decorated with newly painted tiles, thanks to the fine work of the neighbourhood children.
"This is really going to bolster the neighbourhood," Calvin said during the square's reopening ceremony and barbecue on Wednesday as she admired the new gazebo and plaza, picnic tables and benches.
The $330,000 Victoria Square renovation by the city also includes improved lighting and signage, even chess tables.
One of the highlights is a wall of tiles comprised of art work by students from Centennial, Lorne and Millidgeville North schools.
"The kids did this, so they won't mess with it," Calvin said.
Children's hand prints, colourful renditions of flowers and fish, bright rainbows, maple leaves, hearts, even vibrant, psychedelic-style designs were drawn by the children, transferred onto 900 weatherproof tiles and are displayed on a retaining wall that separates the park from the former Alexandra School, built in 1890, which is now a non-profit apartment building.
Eight-year-old Breanna LeBlanc of Centennial School drew marigolds for her tile - she has become familiar with the yellow and gold flowers since she began growing them for the city's marigold campaign - while Zachary Boyce traced his hand, which he signed simply 'Zack'.
"I like brown," he said as he explained what inspired him.
The idea to give the square a facelift came directly from the residents, Calvin said.
The ONE Change group came from meetings about five years ago between residents, landlords, churches, schools and law-enforcement authorities who had decided it was time to "take back" the neighbourhood and instill pride back into its residents.
Councillor Gary Sullivan agrees it's a smart time to buy property in the old north end.
"This square is beautiful," he said, looking around. "It will add to the atmosphere and the environment."
As he congratulated the group on the renovations, Mayor Ivan Court said it is apt that students' artwork decorates the retaining wall since it's their park.
"Come and use the park," he encouraged them. "It's been restored back to its glory days.
"In the future, the kids will bring their children and grandchildren back to the park to see their artwork. "
Maguire Excavating Ltd. did the construction work on the redesign enhancements, curbing and sidewalks, while The Glenn Group Ltd. held the contract for construction management services.
Brunswick Pipeline and Main Street Baptist Church also had a hand in the renovation.
Mayor Ivan Court welcomes the children to the grand opening of the newly renovated Victoria Square on Wednesday.
Source: Telegraph Journal