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.
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
- More accommodation for cyclists
- Clearer driving lanes
- Addition of a centre boulevard
- Reducing lane width for clearer lanes
- Reducing pedestrian exposure
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
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.