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Proposed parking garage a problem for HRM councillor

Click to play video: 'Councillor waving red flag over Halifax Commons parkade plan' Councillor waving red flag over Halifax Commons parkade plan
Halifax Coun. Waye Mason is issuing a warning over the province’s plan to build a 900 car parkade across from the Halifax Infirmary on Summer Street. – Jan 17, 2020

Coun. Waye Mason is waving a red flag over the province’s plan to build a 900 car parkade across from the Halifax Infirmary on Summer Street.

The parking facility is needed to accommodate the construction and redevelopment of the Halifax Infirmary site and the building on the new QEII Health Sciences Centre.

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The hospital is being expanded as part of an infrastructure project that will see a new outpatient centre, cancer centre and research and innovation centre all built on-site.

Mason is concerned the parkade would not only encroach on the commons parkland but is critical of the province for its lack of transparency around the parking project, which would sit adjacent to the Museum of Natural History.

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“The issue really isn’t whether the parking garage needs to be there or not,” said Mason. “The issue is that the provincial government hasn’t shown the public and the regional council the entire plan for what that garage might look like, but we haven’t seen the plans for the entire site either.”

Waye Mason addresses the media in this June 19, 2018, file photo. Alexa MacLean / Global News

Mason said the province will put out a tender next week for the construction of the parkade and questions why the government is veering away from it’s approved master plan.

“The public needs to understand why they can’t build what was consulted on and what’s on their website,” said Mason. “And why they want to do this cheaper option that’s going to do damage to Common and whether there are any other options that can be explored.”

The Halifax Common Master Plan consultations have just wrapped up and Mason says the most common concern from residents was the loss of parkland to development.

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Mason says the construction could impact the Halifax Wanderers grounds and the Bengal Lancers horse riding facility.

But a provincial spokesperson said the new parkade is being built on an existing parking lot and won’t affect the Commons.

“The expansion of the Halifax Infirmary sit involves constructing 1.4 million square feet of new space. The hospital is being expanded and a new outpatient centre, cancer centre and research and innovation centre will all be built on the site” wrote Marla MacInnis in an email.

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NDP transportation and infrastructure critic Susan Leblanc says the province needs to provide answers.

“It’s an extremely important project, we’re all very excited to have a new hospital, we know we need it. But we also know we need to have everybody at the table when those decisions are being made,” said Leblanc.

Mason says the province offered to go over the project details in a private in-camera meeting, but he declined and wants it to be done in a public forum and is asking the province to present the plans to council.

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“I don’t think it should be in-camera or in a private setting because I think the public needs to hear it too,” said Mason.

Leblanc says the department of transportation and infrastructure will be at the next public accounts committee meeting and will be pressed on the issue.

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