Victoria Square revitalization complete with grand opening

Dave
Dave Mathieson
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Amherst Town Crier, Jerry Randall, came out of retirement yesterday to help Mayor Robert Small cut the ribbon for the grand opening to Victoria Square in downtown Amherst. Also on hand for the noon-hour ribbon cutting was Phil and Michelle LeBlanc decked out in 19th century attire.

AMHERST – The revitalization of Victoria Square was celebrated with a town crier, a ribbon cutting and some cake May 24 in downtown Amherst.

“It’s beautiful,” said Valerie Christie, who took a lunch break from her job at the Royal Bank to take in the festivities. “The stonework and the gazebo are very nice.”

Her co-worker, Esther Forsyth, agrees.

“It’s a nice place to come over and sit on a sunny day like this,” said Forsyth. “I was a bit of a skeptic at first but now that it’s a finished product, it’s beautiful.”

Both women love all the sitting spaces.

“Before we were lucky if there were two benches here, now there’s lots of room,” said Christie.

Mayor Robert Small was happy to see people enjoying the revitalized square.

“I love the fact it’s now open and there is sunshine on the park,” said Small. “Before it was a dark, dreary, scary place to come with your family and walk through. Now it’s a safe, secure, well-lit, comfortable place to be.”

Small said it was about four years ago the Town of Amherst got together with the Downtown Revitalization Society and downtown merchants and decided that something had to be done to make downtown Amherst more attractive.

“A businessman approached me and said, ‘Robert, you have to do something to reinvest in the downtown. I own a building but its value is going down because people won’t go near it,’” said Small. “So there were a lot of economic reasons for this development.”

The Victoria Square renovation is part of a downtown development project that has seen work done on several streets in the downtown core, including Victoria and Church Streets.

“What we’re going to do next is a regional marketing strategy, where we want to identify Amherst as the place you stay and check out,” said Small. “Our historic downtown is something we want people to see.”

More pictures of the grand opening can be seen on the slide show at www.cumberlandnewnow.com.

The cost of the Victoria Square revitalization:

- The design costs were $35,000, which was funded by the province of Nova Scotia.

- Total cost of the revitalization was $1,125,000, funded by the Town of Amherst and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

- The Town of Amherst took $308,000 from their capital funds, and $358,000 from gas tax funding to finance the project, and ACOA contributed $459,000.

- Maritech was the general contractor and they came in on time and on budget.

“We wanted to make sure it was done for Remembrance Day (2011) and they worked day and night to make sure it was done,” said Small.

 

Did you know:

- Victoria Square was called Amherst Corner at one time.

- It has been a landmark as early as 1788.

- It was once known as Court House Square.

- The square was originally the vision of pioneer William Freeman.

- It was renamed in 1887 in honour of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

- The bronze statue was erected in 1924, which was modeled after Captain Leon Hall Curry of the 85th Highland Brigade. He died in WW1 and is the son of senator Curry, the donor of the statue.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Advocating for Persons with Disabilities
    June 14, 2012 - 21:13

    To Awareness Concers - at the very inception of the design the Town of Amherst consultants were asked to ensure the street in redesign had sufficient WheelChair accessible spots, and to have the curbs cut down to ensure easy access and to have the Ramp on the Bandstand and that the passage ways throughout the new design be wide enough and accessibe for All - Deaf Ears! - It is not that they were not asked or were not consulted about the design- some things are always more of a priority than the community that supports! ...voters........

  • Emfassis
    May 30, 2012 - 05:34

    There will always be critics that do not like change in general or dislike particular aspects of design features, but the downtown investments should be viewed in the longer term context of building quality assets that make the Town an attractive place to live and work. If left alone the DT would continue to decay, shed businesses and jobs, and leave the town with a hollowed out centre. Hopefully the Town and the business community can build off these investments and focus on increasing commercial and residential activity in this area over the coming years. This is the biggest and most difficult challenge that residents should recognize and support. @ Awarness Concerns - I agree that a ramp probly should have been incorporated into the bandstand design, but it is the only feature of the square that is not. Looking at the smooth walkways and gentle slopes, the square is on the whole much more accessible throughout, and point out that the work done and being done to the sidewalks throughout DT increases accessibility by reduced trip hazards and increased pedestrian safety.

  • Emfassis
    May 30, 2012 - 05:32

    There will always be critics that do not like change in general or dislike particular aspects of design features, but the downtown investments should be viewed in the longer term context of building quality assets that make the Town an attractive place to live and work. If left alone the DT would continue to decay, shed businesses and jobs, and leave the town with a hollowed out centre. Hopefully the Town and the business community can build off these investments and focus on increasing commercial and residential activity in this area over the coming years. This is the biggest and most difficult challenge that residents should recognize and support. @ Awarness Concerns - I agree that a ramp probly should have been incorporated into the bandstand design, but it is the only feature of the square that is not. Looking at the smooth walkways and gentle slopes, the square is on the whole much more accessible throughout, and point out that the work done and being done to the sidewalks throughout DT increases accessibility by reduced trip hazards and increased pedestrian safety.

  • cathy
    May 27, 2012 - 10:22

    I didn't have time to stay for everything. But someone told me how disappointing it was. Toronto Argos? What happened to them? And the BBQ hotdogs and burgers-that always brings a crowd. AND NO CHAIRS! Poorly planned in my opinion!!!!!!!!!!

  • A Class Act
    May 26, 2012 - 19:26

    Having lived in Sackville all my life I am indeed jealous of the vision and ambition of those involved having started the transformation of downtown Amherst into hopefully what will become a vibrant town core. If the 'so called' leaders over here across the marsh only had a small percentage of your abilities we would be so much better off. Looking forward to spending a lot more time in Downtown Amherst. A class act indeed!

  • John
    May 26, 2012 - 14:59

    I just want to say Kudos to this town Council for all the fine work that has been done and continues to be done in the downtown core, They are criticized far to often in this forum IMO.

  • Awarness Concerns
    May 25, 2012 - 21:53

    It was certainly wonderful to hear of the great work which went into the design and preparations and the thousands of dollars of capital funding to finalize the Town of Amherst Dream; having seen the initial design and providing comments to both the design personnel and the Town of Amherst it is still very sad to see how "exclusion" was still part of their design. the plan or concept is very clear , evident and overt when it comes to people with disabilities. A simple ramp for the bandstand is still not there! When will persons with limited mobility be recognized as being valuable comunity people. A chair user, a senior, an individual using a walker or cane - how much is a RAMP! A recent visit by CEO of the Human Rights Commissionof Nova Scotia opened eyes as to the In-accessibility of facilities in Amherst - Here is hoping the Town, Facilities and operators will "open their Doors!