Halifax Regional Council held a special council meeting Thursday to consider a new parking garage proposal for the QEII along Summer Street.
The original proposal requested municipally owned land that would encroach on both the Bengal Lancers and wanderers ground and was opposed by council.
The new proposal includes building a smaller parking garage with about 500 spaces on the other side of the Museum of Natural History which would include a pedway over Summer Street to the hospital, and then a second larger parking garage at the corner of Bell Road and Summer.
The proposal was meant to go to council last week but the municipality required additional information from the province before completing their report. At the start of the meeting, HRM CAO Jacques Dubé spoke of the urgency to get the proposal before council.
“The province is very anxious to get a tender out so that we can in part move this project forward as quickly as possible,” said Dubé.
This is the major redevelopment project at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. It’s a critical part of the province’s health-care strategy and the largest health-care project ever undertaken in Nova Scotia’s history.
Councillors raised some concerns over the latest proposal, with Coun. Shawn Cleary saying it’s “certainly not perfect.”
Cleary questions what the driveway on Bell would look like and how the flow of traffic could impact pedestrians and cyclists using the bike lane.
Staff acknowledged that a detailed traffic study will still be required, and the province’s proposal should not be considered a final plan, as once the tender goes out concepts could still change.
The proposal was ultimately unanimously approved by council, but Coun. Sam Austin did make a plea to the province to use this as an opportunity to create something “outside the box.”
“I think this is a case where we need to think outside the box, the province does. I just really want to plug the potential to do something really innovative with that parking garage. lets not just do a business as usual, a big concrete thing, the cheapest outside the box option. This is a prominent site that’s viewed from blocks and locks away across the Common. “