The first beautification project undertaken by the Gateway BIA, in 1996, was the planting of trees along the sides of the streets. These trees, Schubert Choke Cherry and Patmore Seedless Green Ash, have since filled out tremendously.
A few years after they were planted, the now-mature trees were adorned with strings of white LED lights that added a sparkle to the neighbourhood after dark. However, further growth of the trees eventually required the removal of these lights. The light strings are being replaced in 2018 by upward-directed pot lights at the base of each tree.
Refurbishing the ageing concrete sidewalks in The Gateway with attractive brick pavers was accomplished early on, over the course of two years, completed in 1998.
Gardens, Parks & Sitting Areas
The traffic island garden at 20th Avenue & Vine Street was one of the first initiatives of the Gateway BIA, planted in 1996.
In 1998, the GatewayBIA developed parkettes; inviting little sitting areas comprised of benches, flowers, trees and waste receptacles. Two are located at the intersection of 20th Avenue & Spruce Street, and a third is at 20th Avenue & Tamarack Street.
In 2004, acting on an idea they had put forth in the community six years previously, the Gateway BIA turned the formerly dull area next to the Connaught Youth Centre at 17th Avenue and Victoria Street into a lovely park for local residents to use. It has gardens, mature trees, benches, and a curving brick path where there used to be only a rutted dirt trail.
Bold, elegant red street lamps were installed along the entire Gateway route in 2000. Shortly thereafter began a campaign to remove posters that showed up on the decorative lampposts, until finally, they remained bare. The lamp posts were adorned seasonally with hanging flower baskets, and year-round with colourful street banners.
Not every beautification effort can be something completely new; in the course of 20+ years, some of the budget must inevitably be spent on repairs and upgrading of earlier improvements. The red lamp posts installed in 2000 soon faded to a rosy pink shade. They were repainted red, only to fade again. In 2018 the Gateway BIA followed through on a decision to replace the decidedly pink lamp posts with taller, equally stately, black lamp posts. Although the Gateway BIA generally aims to add as much colour to the neighbourhood as possible, the understated black colour complements the elegant styling of the lamp posts, and it looks great with the bright new banners that have been designed to go with them.
Banners & Flower Baskets
In the years that followed the installation of The Gateway’s elegant lamp posts, the posts were further enhanced with colourful banners and flower baskets. The banners have been updated with a new theme every so often.
In 2018, new decorative lamp posts required larger banners, so the Gateway BIA turned again to their creative partners at Concept Design to develop a new series of images reflecting some of the best things about living in Prince George, from outdoor adventures to definitive wildlife.
Street Name Signs
In 2008, the idea of decorative street name signs was brought up, and board members began researching to find a Canadian supplier. Within a year, the standard green street name signs were replaced with charming new ones that incorporate the Gateway logo.
Art Installations - Mural
In 2006, the Gateway BIA fulfilled a desire to add some original artwork to the area and designed and commissioned the painting of a mural on the side of the Connaught Youth Centre building. Visible from several blocks away, the decidedly local mural depicts regional flora, the old Cameron Street Bridge, the Huble Homestead, and the actual sky that was visible on the day it was painted.
Art Installations - Sculpture
For 2010, the Gateway BIA decided to go big. Five metres tall and ten metres wide, to be specific. Situated on the traffic island at the intersection of Victoria Street & 20th Avenue, the steel sculpture known as “Commotion” depicts life-sized human figures dancing together, connected in jubilant unity. It symbolizes the cooperative spirit of the citizens of Prince George; the diversity, equality, and the volunteer-oriented nature of our community. True to its message, this sculptural installation was conceived, designed, engineered, fabricated and installed locally.
The sculpture certainly created a buzz and a bit of a commotion in the community, and it didn’t take long for someone else community-minded to start a fun and charitable tradition centred on the Commotion sculpture. Every year, at the beginning of winter, a hand-made toque has appeared on each head of the sculpture, and even a few scarves have been seen. Anyone out on a cold day, in need of a warm hat, is welcomed to take one from the sculpture.
Over the past 23 years, the Gateway BIA has invested in so many decorative features that one may wonder if they’ve exhausted the options for neighbourhood beautification. To them, it only means that they need to get more creative…