Local Park Builds Community Spirit In Queen Charlotte
The Village of Queen Charlotte's economy has been resource driven and like many other resource dependent communities, it has been in decline in recent years. In order to attract new residents, retain families and allow for economic diversification, the community has undertaken infrastructure development that showcases their attractive waterfront setting and promotes economic diversity within the community.
Under this project, the Spirit Square project transformed an abandoned building into a community gathering place, tourist attraction locale, and a center for special events throughout the year. Located on waterfront land between the Visitor Information Centre and the recently redeveloped Department of Fisheries and Oceans' small craft harbour, Queen Charlotte's Spirit Square includes a 450 square foot multi-purpose stage built for occasions varying from weddings to music festivals and landscaping that includes bandstand seating, a grassy knoll for casual seating and picnics, benches, picnic tables and areas for vendors' tents.
In 2011, the Village of Queen Charlotte undertook the Phase Two development of their Spirit Square with funding from Northern Development, Gwaii Trust Society, and the Coast Sustainability Trust. Phase Two includes implementing pathways, ground lighting, a drinking fountain, a memorial wall, and a paved Tai Chi Circle. The Memorial Wall commemorates the history and importance of Haida Gwaii as an island community that is reliant on boat and air transportation and documents the more than 287 ships and aircraft that have been lost in the area.
"Spirit Square was an idea in 2007 and is a reality today. It is a reality due to the hard work, devoted volunteerism and vision of many people. Take note of the many local contractors and individuals who provided services and materials to the project or who volunteered their time to work on the site, often on evenings and weekends. Spirit Square is truly a community project."
Mayor Carol Kulesha, Village of Queen Charlotte
Positive Economic Impacts in Queen Charlotte
The Spirit Square project has had significant community and economic benefits. The new development will see the creation of two temporary construction jobs while also directly supporting the seasonal employment of twelve to twenty local vendors. In addition, the project supported local businesses and residents by employing local residents and contractors while also purchasing supplies locally.
Queen Charlotte's Spirit Square will create economic activity and tourism activities in the downtown area to the benefit of the downtown merchants and craft and food vendors. The pathway between the small craft harbour and Albion Fisheries will create a convenient and safe approach for tourists and residents to Albion's off-vessel sales location helping to enhance traffic that will support an increase in the revenue generated by local fishers and the fish processing plant.
Additionally, the Spirit Square will increase the number of events held annually in the community including special events, weddings, music and art festivals and craft fairs as well as becoming an extension of the Farmer's Market. In May, the local Tai Chi community held an invitational event that saw approximately 37 Tai Chi practitioners from elsewhere in British Columbia visit Queen Charlotte, providing a boost for the local economy through the sales of accommodation, meals and other goods and services in this rural oceanside community.
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