A scaled-back version of the community celebration planned at Peterborough’s new Quaker Foods City Square is going ahead from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday (December 17).
According to a media release from the City of Peterborough issued on Wednesday, the event will only include outdoor skating, a DJ on site providing music, and makeup artists doing face painting for children.
However, there will be no treats and hot chocolate, stilt walkers, or performance art as originally planned. There will also be no speeches from dignitaries and no official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“The activities planned for December 17 have been scaled back from the originally scheduled celebration for the opening of the square due to a protest planned to coincide with the event,” reads the media release. “The city apologizes for any inconvenience the changes to the activities may cause.”
Previously scheduled speeches to thank the various partners and sponsors that contributed to the project will be rescheduled for a later time.
The Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) was originally co-hosting the event, but decided to withdraw due to safety and security concerns related to the planned protest.
“The City of Peterborough will be working in partnership with the Downtown Business Improvement Area to support events for the community in the space moving forward,” the media release states.
If you believe that some things are well worth the wait, mark this Saturday (December 17) on your calendar.
A community celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will mark the official opening of Quaker Foods City Square in downtown Peterborough, located at 215 Charlotte Street just east of Aylmer Street.
Completed this fall on the site of the former Louis Street parking lot, the public square will be a year-round home to community events and activities, its amenities including a refrigerated outdoor skating rink and, for the warmer months, water play features.
Co-hosted by the City of Peterborough and the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), the free public celebration will see treats and hot chocolate served free of charge while supplies last. There will also be face painting, DJ-provided music, stilt walkers, and performance art.
At noon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held, preceded by remarks from dignitaries and recognition of funding partners and sponsors.
Weather permitting, there will also be skating on the new outdoor public rink — the only one in downtown Peterborough. City staff are finishing ice surface preparation this week at the rink, which includes automated bollard lighting for night-time skating.
According to Hillary Flood, communications and marketing manager for the Peterborough DBIA, the city square’s central location not only gives downtown Peterborough residents a place to gather but also provides a new outdoor space for public events including free concerts.
“When you’re driving past, you’ll be able to see that there’s something exciting happening downtown,” she says. “In the drearier winter months, it will allow people to come together and enjoy some outdoor recreation and fun, all nestled in the heart of our urban centre.”
The multipurpose space can host a farmers’ market (the former Louis Street parking lot on the site was the location of the Peterborough Downtown Farmers’ Market since 2011), as well as a stage for live music and performance events.
There are also fixed seating areas and tree plantings.
In the future, public washrooms will be available on the ground floor of a mixed commercial-residential building to be constructed at the south end of the city square.
In addition, the city square is the location of Peterborough’s UN Peacekeeping Monument, unveiled back on Canada Day as a joint initiative involving the Peterborough chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping and the City of Peterborough. It pays tribute to the 132 Canadian peacekeepers and two diplomats who died while serving.
Consultation, planning, and design work for the &6.4-million city square began in late 2016, but construction didn’t start until early in 2021.
Key funders of the project include the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) which provided $750,000, the City of Peterborough which contributed $677,909, and the DBIA with a $50,000 donation.
In September, Peterborough city council approved a naming rights agreement with PepsiCo Foods which, through its Quaker brand, will pay $240,000 over 15 years for the city square’s name.
This story has been updated with the most recent information about the event provided by the City of Peterborough.