Whether the face of Centennial Park changes or not will be decided after an inspection by city council scheduled for the end of the month.
During February’s budget deliberations the recreation department proposed taking down the wall behind the fountain and decommissioning the fountain itself.
In explanatory notes for council, recreation director Martin Gould said the wall was “in a dire state” and the only way to save it was a complete rebuild.
As for the fountain, the electrical inspector had condemned it because “it leaks profusely”.
In addition the walkways in the area had many tripping hazards “and are plagued by roots and grass”.
Gould’s report said the estimated cost of returning the area to its original condition was more than $300,000.
Instead, he proposed spending $50,000 to remove the wall, convert the fountain to a perennial bed, remove unnecessary walkways and repair the rest.
A sign would also be installed with a history of the park and photo from 1971.
Benches purchased last year would be placed in the park and the time capsule in the existing wall would be given to the museum.
The totem pole would not be touched.
Asked by mayor Joanne Monaghan what was wrong with rejuvenating the wall, Gould said it would have to be removed and then rebuilt because underneath the wall was just cinder block and the grouting was starting to decay.
Monaghan, however, was far from happy with the proposal.
“It was built by one of our city fathers and it is a heritage site,” she insisted, adding the city could get heritage grant money to refurbish it.
Noting the city had let the CN rail station go, she added, “Everything we have within our community that is heritage we just want to get rid of and destroy.”
Councillor Mario Feldhoff said it was reasonable to take the wall down – it was a safety hazard – and put in “a nice perennial bed”.
And if at some point in the future the city could find grant money or decided it could afford to do it itself, the wall could be rebuilt.
Monaghan countered that if you had a heritage site, you didn’t tear it down and put something else on the site. “That’s not what a heritage site is.”
Councillor Bob Corless sarcastically suggested it could just be left in its current neglected state until the city could get heritage money “and look like crap in the centre of town.”
The recreation department’s proposal was passed 6-1 with only Monaghan opposed.
However, council subsequently agreed to postpone action pending a site inspection.
That is now scheduled for May 30 after which council is expected to make a decision.