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Spring Garden Road: big changes coming to Halifax’s busy street

Monday is the last day to provide feedback on the three options

6 min read
caption Spring Garden Road, bustling with traffic on Tuesday afternoon.
Ava Coulter

The last of a series of opportunities for people to comment in-person on the three potential plans to rejuvenate Spring Garden Road happened on Tuesday at Park Lane Mall.

Elora Wilkinson, the Spring Garden Road project manager, was on-hand, equipped with enlarged maps and pamphlets, to discuss the Halifax Regional Municipality’s $10-million enhancement plan.

The Imagine Spring Garden Road project has attracted attention, with close to 150 people attending a public engagement meeting at the Halifax Central Library last week. On Tuesday, the crowd was much smaller, but people were eager to discuss their views.

“We’ve heard a lot of opposites so far,” Wilkinson said.

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The Spring Garden enhancement plan is the second part of two major streetscaping projects agreed to by regional council. The first was the Argyle Street development completed in 2017.

Three potential plans for separate sections of Spring Garden have been brought forward, with the goal of creating more space for pedestrians while increasing public transit efficiency. According to a 2017 presentation to the Spring Garden Area Business Association, when construction is completed, the street should function like Toronto’s Bloor Street and Vancouver’s Granville Street. It should feel like a place, not only a transportation link.

All three options include moving wires along Spring Garden underground. Wilkinson said consultants are still working on a cost estimate for that part of the project, but the goal is to implement the chosen plan by 2020.

Each option will affect Spring Garden from Robie to Barrington streets. Here’s an explanation of the largest sections.

Robie Street to Summer Street

Option 1

caption Option 1: Robie Street to Summer Street
  • More accommodation for cyclists
  • Clearer driving lanes

Option 2

caption Option 2: Robie Street to Summer Street
  • Addition of a centre boulevard
  • Reducing lane width for clearer lanes
  • Reducing pedestrian exposure

Option 3

caption Option 3: Robie Street to Summer Street
  • Remains a two-way street
  • Wider sidewalks for pedestrians and roadside green space, which also tends to slow traffic.
  • Clear parking and loading spaces.

South Park Street to Queen Street

Option 1

caption Option 1: South Park Street to Queen Street
  • Spring Garden will continue to be accessible to vehicles in both directions.
  • Sidewalk extensions and bump outs (areas of the sidewalk that will extend further than the rest) to make more room for pedestrians and shorter crosswalks. Most transit stops will be on bump outs and extensions.
  • Some on-street loading zones on Spring Garden.
  • Left turns restricted on Queen Street

Option 2

caption Option 2: South Park Street to Queen Street
  • Similar to Option 1, but with more focus on transit and pedestrians.
  • Most left turns restricted, to create more efficient bus routes and fewer pedestrian conflicts. The restricted turns will include Dresden Row, Birmingham Street and Queen Street.
  • Regular traffic prohibited southbound on Spring Garden between South Park to Dresden and eastbound between Dresden and Birmingham. Public transit will be allowed in these areas.
  • Everything else is the same as Option 1.

Option 3

caption Option 3: South Park Street to Queen Street
  • Buses only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between Queen Street and South Park westbound; and between Dresden Row and Queen Street eastbound.
  • Vehicle traffic permitted after 7 p.m.
  • Loading/ deliveries on side streets.

Accompanying these plans are two options for converting various side streets around Spring Garden into one-way streets.

What people are saying

caption John Simmons takes a look at the plans to enhance Spring Garden Road.
Ava Coulter

Many, like Lezlie Oler who works and lives on Dresden Row, will be affected by the project daily. Oler owns In a Box, a fashion and accessory store, and lives in The Martello condo building. She said the possibility of turning Dresden into a one-way street is “disturbing.”

She finds it difficult to exit her parking garage with downtown in its current state and worries the change will make matters worse. Plus, she predicts the added traffic from the YMCA being built at South Park and Sackville streets will be too much for Dresden as a one-way.

“I’d rather see traffic going by my shop in two ways,” she said.

Paul Millington, a Canada Post employee, said Dresden and some of the other side streets should always have been one-way because of their narrow lanes.

Millington had a long talk with Wilkinson about the changes proposed in the third plan. He said removing loading zones and limiting access to Spring Garden during the day would interfere with his job.

“The cause and effect of shutting down Spring Garden Road would be just chaos on the side streets,” said Millington.

He said the result would inconvenience everyone involved, particularly stores waiting for products.

Wilkinson said they hope to minimize the disruption of businesses along and around Spring Garden by implementing lessons learned from the Argyle Street construction in 2017. Road closures and construction cost businesses customers, and left owners frustrated. For the Spring Garden project, Wilkinson said, the municipality hopes to set aside money to promote and partner with businesses that risk losing customers.

Additional feedback can be made at Shape Your City Halifax until Monday. After that, comments will be analyzed, summarized and brought to regional council. Council will then make a recommendation for the project.


Jan. 18, 2019: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong deadline for feedback. There was also wrong information about traffic access for the South Park Street to Queen Street section in Option 3.

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  1. D


    Change requires leadership, which demands courage and is seldom popular. You will not please everybody. Consultation to be meaningful also doesn't mean "getting your way" as all views cannot be accommodated. Planners need to keep the long game in mind, which sadly won't be a Sparks Street Ottawa concept as it's not mentioned - pedestrian and bicycles only. SG Road could be a pedestrian friendly retail and recreational piedway, but introducing buses and trucks and car traffic destroys the potential experience with noise, exhaust, and congestion. There are so many beautiful spaces where a peaceful outdoor beverage or shopping stroll is destroyed by vehicle grid lock, and buses are not the savior. They are noisy, big, and they stink. Geez, we have forgotten how to walk.
  2. R

    Ronald Scott

    Suggest: 1. Limiting size of buildings on SGR so that there is no additional shade on the street in the future 2. Make SGR a street like Argyle to encourage walking and bicycling 3. More trees
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