Nova Scotia

Business groups welcome review of HRM construction impact guidelines

Business commissions in the Halifax Regional Municipality say they welcome a review of guidelines set up to reduce the impact of construction on residents and businesses.

Review comes as several major construction projects set to begin

A 25-storey tower is proposed for the Willow Tree area of Halifax. HRM is set to review its rules around the impacts of construction projects. (Submitted by Armco Capital)

Business commissions in the Halifax Regional Municipality welcome a review of a bylaw set up to reduce the impact of construction on nearby residents and businesses.

The construction mitigation guidelines were adopted after the Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street took five years to complete and complaints about other large developments.

"Sidewalks would be closed and no way to get around, there was noise and mess," said Coun. Waye Mason. "There was no requirement to meet with the neighbours and come up with a plan."

New rules were adopted that required mitigation plans. Now HRM staff are working on updates to that bylaw.

Major projects set to begin

The head of the Quinpool Road Business Commission said the move is timely given that several large developments will soon be underway, including the 25-storey Armco tower and the redevelopment of the Ben's Bakery site.

"My No. 1 issue is improved communication and notification," said Karla Nicholson. "How can we make this as painless as possible?"

Nicholson said if parking has to be reduced for construction activities, even for short periods of time, the business owners need as much notice as possible.

"And when the no-parking signs that have been erected are no longer needed, they have to come down as soon as possible," said Nicholson, "Parking is a precious commodity to our members."

Spring Garden Road facelift

There are also plans to give Spring Garden Road a major facelift with wider sidewalks, new light fixtures, benches and public art.

The streetscaping project is scheduled to take place in 2021. The work will affect the blocks between Queen Street and South Park Street for up to seven months.

The head of the Spring Garden Area Business Association said her members welcome the improvements, but have concerns.

"The merchants are worried about the potential loss of sales," said Sue Uteck. "We firmly believe that compensation should be part of the package."

Compensation unlikely

Mason expects tighter restrictions on noise and new rules for rodent control, but does not think there will be compensation for municipal streetscaping projects, particularly those that stay on schedule.

"I think the answer has to be no," said Mason. "If we have to include money for compensation then many of these projects wouldn't get done and they wouldn't benefit from them."

But Mason said compensation may be considered for projects that take longer than expected.

He has asked for a separate report on the compensation issue. Right now HRM is not allowed to give money directly to private businesses.

The construction mitigation bylaw is expected to be updated by the spring of 2020.

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