A 10-year long effort at an urban park setting in the middle of Terrace has come to an end with the last surface bricks being removed and efforts underway to dismantle planters and the artwork installation of upside down umbrellas that gave the location its name of Brolly Square.
“For the first five years it was great. And the next five years it wasn’t,” Greater Terrace Beautification Society president Chris Hansen said last week of a lease that expired this spring it had with Imperial Oil, the owner of the property at the corner of Lakelse and Emerson.
That location once held a service station and when it was closed and taken down, the property became a brownfield site because of its prior use, requiring environmental remediation and a clean environmental bill of health before it could be sold for another purpose.
With Imperial Oil deciding to have whatever hydrocarbons that might be under the property naturally breakdown, an eventual agreement was reached with the beautification society to use the property as a downtown park.
Brolly Square was officially opened in 2012 and quickly became a popular location for concerts, public events and charitable barbecues.
But it also gradually became a location frequented by loiterers and scenes of public drinking and other public disorder resulting in a high volume of nuisance complaints to police.
“It’s been heartbreaking — disheartening seeing what has happened. It’s not just there, it’s everywhere these last years,” said Hansen of Brolly Square’s decline that has been matched with growing public disorder elsewhere in the downtown core.
“There’s no way we could have foreseen this. It leaves a sour taste,” she said.
If not for scenes of public disorder, Imperial’s requirement for scheduled drilling in recent years so that soil could be tested for hydrocarbons resulted in fencing going up and down and bricks either being removed or damaged, Hansen added.
“To have it as a public space became too much,” she said.
The planters will be dismantled for reuse and the artwork will be stored.
Imperial required that bricks and pavers not be cemented or fixed into place so they could be easily removed and that’s what the society has been doing recently in preparation for officially leaving the site.
So far the society has collected approximately $2,000 in donations from people wanting bricks for their own use. Society members will be at Brolly Square May 14 beginning at 8:30 a.m. to remove the remainder of the bricks.
“Now it’s going to be between the city and Imperial,” said Hansen of the property’s future.
Imperial says its plans for selling the property have not changed.
“We’ve communicated to the society our intention to market the site hopefully in late 2022/mid-2023, contingent on the receipt of a Certificate of Compliance from the Ministry of Environment,” the company indicated in a May 10 statement.