FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John is having its official grand opening of the new Festival Plaza after putting it on hold due to gathering restrictions.

The new building opened up in May, hosting the first farmers market of the season.

The new plaza includes an all-season building for events, stalls for vendors, public washrooms, fire obelisks for heating and an outdoor performance space.

Council approved the project in 2019, and Kalmar Construction started building the plaza last summer. The total cost of the plaza was approximately $3.2 million, with $1.9 million coming from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Grant.

Last year, the city hosted a public art competition, offering local artists the opportunity to display their work on the obelisks. Each contains a large gas-fueled fire cauldron within an enclosed steel structure.

Visitors will notice the performance oval is surrounded by eight leaning tamarack poles, representing the skeleton structure of a teepee.

The plaza also features artistic paving patterns throughout the site with various coloured concrete surfaces and cement bleachers with traditional beadwork imagery provided by Garry Oker of the Doig River First Nations.

The city also installed bead panels at the plaza on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The grand opening is taking place Friday at 1 p.m.