About the Project

The development of a Public Plaza in downtown Sault Ste. Marie presents a unique opportunity to create a vital community hub. The plaza will be full of activities that draw users throughout the year and across all ages and ability levels. The Plaza design process began with growing awareness in the community of the importance of activity-based destinations in the downtown. The project aligns with the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s 2016 Downtown Strategy and established key objectives to animate and rejuvenate the downtown. The new Downtown Civic Plaza will be a critical piece in helping to realize this strategy.
Located at 526 Bay Street, the Plaza contain a series of elements, including:
Skating Rink and water feature
Flexible event / gathering area
Stage with outdoor screen
Play Zone
Lighting Displays
Public washrooms and change area
Trees and planting beds

Downtown Plaza Consultation Summary
The project team conducted a range of engagement sessions for the conceptual development of the Downtown Plaza. The engagement sessions included a presentation to Council, a collaborative meeting with the Downtown Association, two public Zoom sessions and an online survey.

Please note: for access to larger images, click on the visuals displayed below.

This bird's eye view of the plaza concept shows the two important elements of the project: the flexible gathering area and the skating rink/splashpad next to Queen Street.

Our concept draws inspiration from the St. Mary’s River Rapids, a significant geological feature that is intertwined with this City’s history.
Formed during the last ice age as melting ice-waters breached a land dam near Gros Cap, the rapids became a focal point for the region’s first inhabitants who called it Baa-wit-i-gong, or “place of the rapids”. The area has been a gathering and harvesting place for people for centuries.
Post-colonization, Sault Ste. Marie became an industrial centre, owing to the St. Mary’s River, to hydro power and regional resources. Today, the rapids remain an important experience in the City - with ships passing, fish and water levels ebbing and flowing.
Our concept celebrates the dynamic St. Mary’s River rapids, using their form as inspiration for the plaza design, with shapes, patterns and storytelling within the space.

The plaza concept can be divided into two main rooms. The upper room, fronting Queen Street, hosts the main activity generator – the skating rink / splashpad and associated support building. The 750m2 rink is set back from Queen Street and ringed with seating as this will become a very popular place in town.
The support building will house public washrooms, a skate change room, mechanical equipment and a Zamboni.

To the west of the rink is the main north-south walkway, which links Queen Street to Bay Street through the site.

A conceptual rendering of a winter evening of skating in the plaza, looking south from Queen Street.


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99 Foster Drive
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 5X6