Government handling of contentious QEII parkade a ‘big fail,’ says opposition leader

Seven-storey, 900-car parkade to be built next to Halifax Common

The public outcry over a contentious hospital parkade development reflects a lack of transparency on the part of Nova Scotia’s Liberal government, opposition leaders say.

The project has met with opposition after plans were made public on Jan. 28 that show a seven-storey parkade and energy plant impeding on green space around the Halifax Common.

“I think it’s been a big fail on how they managed this file,” Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston told reporters Thursday morning.

“This is a project the government has been working on for a long time. They should have been working with people, listening to people.”

Gary Burrill, leader of Nova Scotia’s NDP, said his party has been pushing the Stephen McNeil government to release a full report on the project, which would contain exact details on what the design would look like.

“The basic problem is there are project development documents that the people of Nova Scotia should have available to scrutinize and consider,” said Burrill.

McNeil said the QEII parkade’s impact on the Common has been public news since October, when it was announced the parkade would be built beside the Museum of Natural History. At that time the news release did not show the parkade’s design.

“All of that has been public,” McNeil told reporters Thursday.

He said the city is responsible for consulting with the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers and the Halifax Wanderers, two groups most affected by the parkade.

Both the Lancers and Wanderers say they weren’t consulted on the proposed plan, which would see a 900-car, seven-storey garage built right beside them on Bell Road.

Coun. Waye Mason, who represents downtown Halifax, and HRM’s chief administrative officer Jacques Dube, have said city staff were under a non-disclosure agreement with the province and were not permitted to discuss the QEII project, according to a CBC report.

‘Surprised’ at public backlash

Lloyd Hines, minister of transportation and infrastructure renewal, said he was surprised at the backlash against the parkade development. It’s part of a $2-billion health services upgrade in the Halifax region.

“Perhaps more so a little bit disappointed, because of the importance of this facility,” Hines said.

“I think people need to understand that we didn’t just pull these ideas out of the sky,” he said. “We examined every possible option we would have, including parking.”

Hines said the province has received “lots” of input from residents around HRM and near the proposed parking site, and has been in regular talks with senior HRM staff.

As of now, the project is going ahead as planned.

“We don’t have any reason at this point in time to change any of that design,” Hines said.

Sam Gillett

Sam Gillett

Sam calls Orillia, Ontario home. When he's not chasing Signal stories, he can be found sketching in cafes, watching soccer or following news about professional motocross.

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