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Old square, new look

There’s significance in the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival’s shifting of its annual noon hour show in the downtown, which takes place this Friday as part of the 14th annual festival, from St. George’s Square to Market Square. It’s one of the signs that the new Market Square in front of city hall may be poised to be Guelph’s new civic hub, and this leads to questions about the future of St. George’s Square.
Fortunately, city hall is thinking big in this regard. With more than 100 years of St. George’s Square being where transit vehicles converge now over, the city is exploring a wide range of options for the square. That even includes looking at whether its current road pattern should be altered, says Ian Panabaker, the city’s corporate manager for downtown renewal.
What will happen to the square is one of the big pieces of the downtown puzzle still to be worked out. Serious work on it by the urban design section of the city’s planning department starts this fall. The financial realities of Guelph’s capital budgeting mean any major reconstruction of St. George’s Square wouldn’t happen any time soon. However, repaving the square’s cracked roadway over the course of a few days in August is one of the short-term improvements being planned.
It’s nice to see the city seizing the opportunity to “re-imagine this space for the long term,” as Panabaker puts it. Trying out different things in the square, combined with some intensive planning at city hall, should help keep the city’s focus on this historic square. And that’s a good thing.

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