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City of Guelph

City of Guelph

Urban designers presented this reimagined view of St. George’s Square, featuring a traffic circle around a centralized public space, to members of the public at an open house on Tuesday evening.

Plans for St. George’s Square called ‘bit of a head-scratcher’

Downtown Guelph Business Association executive director Marty Williams is skeptical about a plan that would see St. George’s Square turned into a central piazza-like space with a traffic circle running around the outside.
The lack of a clear plan for how this passive space would be used outside of a few annual or seasonal events is one of the primary concerns, said Williams.
“If you take all the unused or underused space and pull it all together into one central space, what is it?” he asked. “People are nervous or worried that the plan is going forward without that question answered.”
The funding is not there, nor is the demand, to have continuous events and programming in the space, and he questioned whether the beauty of the space alone would be enough to attract people and keep it animated. “It’s a bit of a head scratcher,” he said.
He also questioned an assertion that pushing the road outward toward the buildings in the square would push more pedestrian traffic toward businesses.
Currently, people who use the square occupy the spaces that are closest to the street, he said.
“I don’t know that any of that will change,” he said.
Williams agreed the central square design might be better for events, but argued that it wouldn’t necessarily be more attractive the rest of the time.
Unlike Market Square, where the water feature brings people to the area almost year-round, the St. George’s Square design doesn’t include an attraction, Williams said.
“You really need to have a reason to go there that’s ongoing,” he said.

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