One of Atlantic Canada’s busiest pedestrian streets is set to get a makeover as soon as 2020, and staff with the Halifax Regional Municipality unveiled the three potential options for Spring Garden Road on Monday.
The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) hosted a public engagement session at the Halifax Central Library from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and showed off the functional plans for the upcoming streetscaping project.
It was a packed house, with more than 150 people filtering through a single room at the library.
Municipal staff were on hand to explain the specifics of the designs but no organized discussion was held by public officials.
All three of the options would significantly disrupt the packed shopping corridor.
“Part of what we’re looking to do is underground all of the wiring, so any of the options proposed today would involve that,” said Elora Wilkinson, project manager for the streetscaping project.
The three plans include different relative “widths of the road and sidewalk, transit priority and space” in their designs.
The first option is to expand the sidewalks and curbs along Spring Garden Road to create more room for cyclists and foot traffic.
It’s the option that most closely resembles what you see on Spring Garden Road right now.
The second option includes a centre boulevard to beautify the street and separate traffic.
The third option would create wider sidewalks.
This would help facilitate transit and pedestrians, but would limit vehicle traffic during the day.
“I’m personally a fan of the daytime corridor for the transit, I like that it’s setting some infrastructure and putting thought toward the future, especially less car user ship because it’s probably something we’re going to start seeing as a trend,” said Halifax resident Oisin Heavey.
“I hope every possible effort is made to retain and increase the amount of on street parking to make the area as accessible to as wide a scope of people as possible,” added Mary Ellen Donovan.
Halifax will use the feedback gathered from what citizens like or dislike about each of the three options and will use that feedback to create a final design.
One open house participant, David Gough, said he couldn’t choose a proposal he liked, because the room was too crowded, the displays were confusing, and there was no organized discussion to help the public navigate the charts and paperwork.
“It’s hard to say what I think about these proposals because when I’ve run meetings in the past, it’s been in a quality room with moderation and a good chair,” he told Global News. “This fiasco tonight that the city and the consultants have put on is not respective of the quality of people we are in Halifax.”
The goal of the streetscaping project, according to a request for proposals (RFP) placed last year, is to strengthen Spring Garden Road’s “sense of place” while creating a “superior experience” for one of the municipality’s most important retail and transit corridors.
The HRM asked for a design incorporating wider sidewalks, safe and comfortable places to wait for buses and “exceptionally robust” street furniture while accommodating “universal accessibility for all users and all abilities.”
A pilot project, the temporary Spring Garden Road stoplet, was unveiled this past summer and allowed the municipality to test a possible option for the streetscaping project.
The stoplet temporarily widened the sidewalk between Birmingham Street and Dresden Row and created a zone where people could sit and relax in the area.
The design and construction of the new Spring Garden Road are budgeted for $10 million and come after the Argyle and Grafton streetscaping project was completed in 2017.
Haligonians are also able to provide feedback online at the HRM’s website.
The streetscape project dates back to 2009 when a design was created, though it never came to fruition.