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Moncton’s Downtown Centre Continues to Attract Community Interest

Downtown Centre (Image: Ron Ward Photography)

MONCTON – As Moncton’s Downtown Centre begins to take shape and features are starting to appear, interest from the community is going strong.

According to the construction update for November and director of corporate communications for the city of Moncton Isabelle LeBlanc, the $104 million project is still on time and on budget.

To date, over 71,000 man hours have been worked on the site with approximately 110 people working onsite daily. Structural steel work is expected to be completed this month as the roofing, aluminum glass framing and glass installation continues. The project is expected to be completed by July 1, 2018 with the official opening in September.

LeBlanc emphasized the importance of the project and said the recently elected city council has been especially interested in revitalizing the downtown area, something the Downtown Centre is expected to contribute to.

“This is the largest construction project that we’ve undertaken in the city’s history so it’s obviously very important to the city of Moncton,” LeBlanc said. “We’ve been trying to revitalize our downtown for a couple of years now and with the new city council coming in … they’re very much into revitalizing the downtown area as well. They want to do things differently, they want to innovate, they want to move the city forward so downtown has been a focal point for development.”

LeBlanc says that the city has responded to the public’s interest in previous projects such as the Moncton Stadium and Resurgo Place by keeping them as up to date as possible on the progress of the Downtown Centre. LeBlanc says that once it’s open, the public will notice a major step up from the Moncton Coliseum when it comes to size, open space and views as well as additional features like box seats and suites.

Downtown Centre (Image: Ron Ward Photography)

Downtown Centre Image: Ron Ward Photography)

Steve Leger is the project director at Bird Construction, the lead contractor on the Downtown Centre. Leger says that the public’s interest in the project and the fact it’s a public/private partnership has made timeliness even more crucial.

“Normally you don’t get this much public interest in projects you’re building. With a school or a mall you don’t have as much interest as you do with something like this,” Leger said. “There’s a little bit more staff on this job than a normal job. Part of that is because it is a large job, part of it is because it’s a public/private partnership job so the schedule is paramount for us.”

Leger says that they’ve currently issued around 35 contracts, with 31 of them being local to New Brunswick. Leger says they’re putting a conscious effort into issuing as many local subcontracts as possible.

So far, tours of the inside of the Downtown Centre have been limited to members of council, senior city staff and the media for safety reasons. Derek Martin, president of Downtown Moncton Centre-ville Inc. was onsite for a tour Tuesday. He says he was very impressed by what he saw of the inside of the building he’s been driving by for months.

Martin was most impressed by the size of the structure on the inside and the new views it offers of downtown Moncton.

“It was kind of hard to see the scope of how big it actually is,” Martin said. “The scale of it just seems a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Going from just driving by, seeing the outside of the building and the shell kind of taking shape. Now the shell seems more complete and you can walk in and get a sense of how it’s going to feel once it’s operational.”

Martin says he’s looking forward to seeing what will be done with the Downtown Centre once it’s finished.

“It feels like I’m in a huge structure that I’d only otherwise seen in huge cities like Toronto or Vancouver. I’m amazed and so happy to see this taking place in Moncton. I feel like it’s putting Moncton on the grand stage.”

“After seeing it, I have no doubt in my mind that it’ll be used not only often but all the time … I think everyone wants to move forward and I think this is a huge step in the right direction in going forward. That’s growth.”