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The ‘very busy’ Halifax waterfront and why changes could be on the way

Click to play video: 'Plan underway to review ‘very busy’ Halifax waterfront'
Plan underway to review ‘very busy’ Halifax waterfront
As Halifax’s population continues to grow, plans to prevent overcrowding along the city’s downtown waterfront are being reviewed. As Megan King reports, the provincial government is reassessing the waterfront strategic plan in its entirety – which includes looking into where ferry terminals will be located – Apr 22, 2024

If you’ve taken a summertime walk along the Halifax waterfront in recent years, you’ve likely had to navigate through crowds of people to get to your destination.

With tourist season fast approaching, the harbour will soon be filled with cruise ships, and the tourism boom will mean crowded walkways and packed patios.

Nova Scotia Public Works Minister Kim Masland told reporters Thursday that she was approached by Build Nova Scotia, which wanted to do a review of the waterfront.

Masland noted that between cruise ships and the city’s rising population, the waterfront gets quite crowded in the summer. And with new ferries being added to the Halifax Transit fleet in the coming years, the current ferry terminal may be unable to handle increased traffic.

“With the ferry building that we have there now … with the wharf infrastructure that we have there now, it’s not going to be sufficient to have those ferries come in,” she said.

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This could mean creating a new waterfront ferry terminal, as the current one, “where it is now, is not going to work.”

“It was a very busy summer last summer, this summer is going to be busier, and the summer after,” she said. “The traffic that’s going to be on the waterfront is going to be huge. I think it’s smart to actually step back and look and make a plan and a review of the entire harbour.”

David Benoit, president and CEO of Build Nova Scotia, told a public accounts meeting last week that it was time to update the waterfront’s strategic plan.

He said they aim to look at the waterfront’s current strategic assets and properties, and plan out how they will continue to develop the waterfront.

“The waterfront, I think everyone could agree, is one of the most visited destinations in Nova Scotia … I get comments all the time about how beautiful and how amazing it is,” he said.

“And that didn’t happen by accident. That happened because a strategic plan was developed, and now it’s time to update that strategic plan.”

Benoit said updating the plan is “kicking off now,” and said Build Nova Scotia is working as quickly as they can to progress it this year.

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“The need for it was identified. Probably, I should have identified it earlier, to be perfectly frank with you, but it’s identified now,” he said.

In a statement, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission said it was “very excited and interested in a new waterfront plan.”

“As we continue our work on our (soon to be released) Downtown Halifax Vision 2030, a theme we’ve been hearing is the need for better connections between the ferries, buses, and bikes in the Downtown, so the time is certainly right to thoughtfully rethink the ferry terminal,” it said.

The commission said the waterfront is a key part of the city’s downtown, both for visitors and the growing residential population.

“We have a great working relationship with Build NS and look forward to working with them more as this concept moves forward,” it said.

 

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