Centennial Square Action Plan

Every great city has a dynamic public square where people gather for celebrations, play, or quiet contemplation.

Around the world, civic squares function as the heart of a city’s downtown. They provide something for everyone year round, including a place to gather for celebration, a place to sit and relax, play elements for people of all ages, and a unique attraction that makes it a destination for residents and visitors.

About the Project - Council Direction

Community input received through the development of the City's Downtown Public Realm Plan helped to identify Centennial Square as a priority public space for improvement. The community expressed a desire to see the Square enhanced to be a more vibrant public space and become a Square that is more accessible, inclusive, welcoming for people of all ages, and that supports a greater variety of programs and events throughout the year.

The Downtown Public Realm Plan's key strategies to bring more vibrancy to Centennial Square include:

  • Increase ground-level commercial and cafe/restaurant space in the area
  • Facilitate temporary installations such as cafe kiosks or food trucks in the Square
  • Improve the Square's connections with Douglas Street
  • Incorporate play elements to make the space welcoming for children and families
  • Introduce new surface material to complement the existing heritage brick

Council has directed staff to develop a draft action plan for Centennial Square to guide future programming and design improvements over the short (1-2 years) and medium term (2-5 years), with a long-term framework that identifies redevelopment options in the future.

Enhancements to Centennial Square identified through the draft Action Plan will be intended to energize the public square, provide support for major outdoor events and festivals and better connect the space to adjacent streets.

A stakeholder working group representing residents, community groups, businesses, arts and culture groups, festival users, and heritage is working with staff to provide guidance and input for the development of the draft Action Plan.

Community Input

Since July 2018, more than 1,400 people have shared their input and ideas through an online survey, emails, pop up events in Centennial Square and an “Ideas Jam” open house event.

Improvements to make the Square feel more welcoming and safe, family friendly, and a desire to see more year-round programming were some of the top themes identified by the community.

Ideas Jam Workshop and Open House - Emerging Ideas

Emerging ideas for improvements to the Square were explored during an “Ideas Jam” in September. Staff and design professionals along with the stakeholder working group and members of the public explored preliminary design possibilities to improve the Square and achieve community desires identified through earlier community input.

Here are four of the 12 emerging ideas from the workshop (click the link below for a full summary of ideas):

Idea 1: Douglas Street Plaza area - Hard surface plaza and event space

Idea 2: Douglas Street Plaza - Lawn, seating and event space

Idea 3: Improved Connections and Accessible Grades

Idea 4: Refreshed Fountain and Central Plaza with Contemporary Seating

These are just a few of the emerging ideas. Check out the full workshop summary and all the emerging ideas [PDF - 2.5 MB]

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think about these emerging ideas? Email us and let us know your thoughts, feedback and ideas in response to some of the emerging ideas that are being explored. Your input will inform draft design concepts, programming recommendations and priorities for the Square.

Next Steps and Project Timeline

Draft design concepts, programming recommendations and priorities will be shared with the community in late 2018 for further input to help inform a draft action plan.

A draft action plan for Centennial Square will be considered by Council in early 2019. Opportunities for public input to inform the draft action plan include:

  • Identifying key themes and big ideas (July 2018)
  • Review of workshop sketches and draft “big move ideas” (September/October 2018)
  • Draft concepts, programming recommendations and priorities (Late 2018)
  • Draft Action Plan review (Early 2019)

History and Background

Centennial Square was constructed in the 1960s as part of a major initiative to preserve, restore and revive downtown Victoria, and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Victoria. A major renovation to the south-west corner of the plaza was completed in 2009 adding the area known as Spirit Square.

Learn more about the creation of Centennial Square - A Townscape Rediscovered [YouTube]