In 2018, as part of the Downtown Action Plan, the City of Fort St. John initiated the process to design and create a “Festival Plaza”, envisioned to be a year-round accessible public open space for hosting a wide variety of programmed events, arts, private functions, entertainment and celebration. The site is located on the northwest corner of Centennial Park, at the intersection of 96 Avenue and 100 Street. Through a series of community engagement sessions, the vision for Festival Plaza was conceived, and construction on the plaza was complete in 2021.
Design Elements & Amenities
The design of the plaza has strong influences from local ecology, landforms, culture and events. Further, several design elements in Festival Plaza are directly influenced by local First Nation communities, celebrating many generations of First Nation people in the region and telling stories of our area's heritage. Literal imagery will include historical plaques throughout the site, telling the stories of both First Nation and other cultural accounts of our past.
- Eight leaning wood poles around the main performance oval mimicking the placement of natural wood poles as the skeleton structure of a teepee. Four of the poles will include upward facing lights that intersect approximately 75m off the ground, providing a lit impression of teepee poles converging high in the sky that can be seen from afar.
- An open-air building with a capacity of 300 people that can accommodate a variety of functions such as markets, performances, social events and exercise classes. The building is very transparent with primarily clear glazing around all four walls, with roll-up doors on two facades allowing for free movement of people in and out of the building.
- Artistic paving patterns throughout the site with a variety of coloured concrete surfaces. One feature includes a coloured “river” passing through the entire site that, in plan-view, mimics the exact alignment of the Peace River as it passes through the Fort St. John region.
- Bronze paw prints impressed directly into the concrete surfaces, with life-like representations of black bear, moose and wolf prints randomly placed along the concrete river feature. Prints will be placed in precise configurations to exactly replicate true gaits and spacing of each animal.
- Fire obelisks that include a large gas-fueled fire cauldron within an enclosed steel structure. Bases are constructed of pre-cast concrete and masonry material. Each of the four structures will include black painted steel above the bases, featuring imagery created by local artists, inspired by one of four themes.
- Three dedicated food truck stalls with 50-amp power provided and nearby picnic tables.
The City of Fort St. John, with the Fort St. John Art Council, hosted a public art competition that offered local artists the opportunity to leave a lasting impression in the plaza. The four winning designs feature cut-out imagery that adorns the four flat metal sides of each fire obelisks. Each of the obelisks was designed around one of four categories; landform, culture, above the horizon, and flora and fauna.