The town plaza at Uptown is now officially open to the public.
An area once blocked off to both pedestrians and cars was unveiled to the public during a ceremony on Wednesday morning.
“Those of you who remember the old Town and Country remember that four years ago if you were standing in this location, you would’ve been slightly south of Peter’s Ice Cream… and standing in an actual parking lot with about three trees in sight,” Geoff Nagle, director of development with Morguard Investments, the owner of Uptown, said at the unveiling.
In the boulevard now sits a grassy square lined with pink and blue flowers, and benches for the public.
The centre of the square holds a large, almond shaped mosaic representing traditional Coast Salish art with four thunderbirds and two human heads; one male and one female.
The opening of the boulevard and unveiling of the artwork, done by artist Joe Wilson, is the latest milestone for the upscale shopping centre.
It also marks the start of Uptown’s phase two – getting retailers and businesses into the empty storefronts set to open by next spring.
At the unveiling, Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard was more than pleased with the latest phase of the project. “I think the best thing I can say is that it looks better than the drawing – it’s that good,” he said.
“There’s no disappointment with what’s happening here at Uptown.”
A public celebration, with live music, kids activities and cupcake decorating, followed the unveiling.
The town plaza was designed for community use and events such as these.
“This is a central part of Uptown, the plaza here. We’re looking forward to our community gathering here on many occasions,” Leonard said.
The First Nations mosaic, which acts as the base of a fountain in the boulevard, has been a year-and-a-half in the making, according to Wilson.
Wilson designed the artwork with Chris MacDonald of Eagle Feather Gallery.
The mosaic contains more than 4,000 pieces of blue, green and yellow glass tile. At night, the bottom of the fountain lights up.
Standing in front of the mosaic after the ceremony, Wilson laughed as a little boy ran through the fountain.
Seeing the final product is totally exhilarating, he said.
“I just hope that it will bless everyone that sees it, that’s what I want, is the children to be blessed … and moms and dads,” Wilson said. “And I hope that it’ll bring everyone some joy.”