After months of work on the design, the brains behind the concept for the revitalized Civic Centre Plaza were eager to show the public their work.
Representatives from Vancouver-based firm van der Zalm and Associates held court in the Civic Centre Tuesday afternoon at an open house showcasing the concept art for 2015 Canada Winter Games celebration hub.
"As designers, it's actually really fairly exciting because we've been engaging the major stakeholders," said Shaun Smakal. "Having the broad scale is good because you don't know where someone's going to come from."
During Monday night's meeting, council approved the design concept, known as the River. as well as the changing of the name to Canada Games Plaza - Place des Jeux du Canada, en franais - to reflect a commitment made in the initial 2015 Games bid.
The theme was influenced by the design for a downtown city park from the Smart Growth on the Ground concept plan, Smakal said.
"The two rivers, it's why Prince George is what it is," he said. "From the First Nations perspective, early exploration, pioneer development, to today - it's key."
The 2015 Games organizers were one of the groups consulted during the design process, along with the Prince George Public Library, Two Rivers Gallery, Tourism Prince George, the advisory committee on accessibility, and others.
"It's so exciting because Canada Games Plaza will be a real key area during Games time," said spokesperson Alyson Gourley-Cramer.
The neighbouring library will act as the athlete's village and the Civic Centre is where they will take their meals. The plaza will also be home to the Games cauldron during the event's two-week run.
"We just got back from Sherbrooke [Quebec, home of the 2013 Canada Summer Games] and we saw that the cauldron was a real draw for people. They wanted to go get their picture taken there," said Gourley-Cramer. "So I think it's really key to have an inviting space for people at Games time, and that's exactly what this will be."
During Monday night's meeting, Coun. Cameron Stolz was the sole vote in opposition to the design.
"I see this as an opportunity for us to do something bigger... instead of taking half a million dollars to redo a space that's already used regularly," he said, explaining he would have liked to see an option using the space beside the Wood Innovation and Design Centre.
Coun. Brian Skakun said he understood where Stolz was coming from, but that it was too late in the process to change things. "I think we need to move on," he said. "I don't want us to get put behind the 8-ball."
In addition, said community services director Colleen van Mook, Games organizers have been making plans based on the fact the plaza was going to be the centre for celebrations and entertainment.
"We have a lot of work behind us already with 542 days left," said van Mook. "It would be difficult to start another project right now."
Going to another location would also wipe out the $500,000 budget the city has approved for the plaza work pretty quickly, said Coun. Frank Everitt.
During the council meeting, Coun. Dave Wilbur also brought up the fact that the library, which drives the most traffic to the area, is working on plans of their own.
"Some of those would dovetail nicely," he said.
Designs for a new entrance to the library by Chernoff Thompson Architects are currently being finalized, confirmed library controller Jodi Tindill.
"It's going to be fabulous," Tindill said, outlining plans for covered amphitheatre-style seating that will not only accommodate a couple hundred people for viewing the stage proposed in the plaza design, but would also provide screening of the parking lot.