Nova Scotia

CBRM looks to solve parking problems in historic north end

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is considering changes to regulations in Sydney's historic north end due to parking pressures created by renovations to the 130-year-old former Holy Angels convent.

Renovations at 130-year-old Holy Angels convent increasing pressure on residential street parking

Renovations to the 130-year-old Holy Angels convent will see it transformed into a centre for arts and culture, with spaces leased to a number of organizations. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is considering changes to parking regulations in Sydney's historic north end.

Renovations are underway on the 130-year-old former Holy Angels convent, and they're expected to put more pressure on parking in the residential neighbourhood.

New Dawn Enterprises is transforming the convent into a centre for arts and culture, with spaces leased to a number of organizations.

The plan includes adding a café to serve tenants and the public.

However, CBRM planners say the facility does not have enough parking to meet current regulations.

Coun. Amanda McDougall said the municipality needs new development and parking regulations shouldn't get in the way.

Coun. Amanda McDougall says the municipality is spending money on active transportation, such as bike lanes and walking trails, and planning for cars is outdated. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"If there is a development that's happening downtown, it shouldn't be, 'You have to have X amount of parking spaces because that's what we decided on 20 years ago,'" she said.

"I think we need to look at this with a new lens."

McDougall, who is also executive director of the environmental agency ACAP Cape Breton, said the municipality is spending money on active transportation infrastructure, such as bike lanes and walking trails, and planning for cars is outdated.

Coun. Eldon MacDonald, who represents the downtown business district and the north-end neighbourhood, said he, too, wants to see growth, but parking is already a problem for residents.

He said employees at the federal citizenship and immigration offices, located on the border between the downtown and the north end, have been parking on residential streets.

"I don't think we should disregard the regulations," said MacDonald.

"I think we should always be up for the option of doing a review and looking into the current regulations and what they could look like if they could be changed."

Coun. Eldon MacDonald says an open house will also be scheduled later this month. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC)

CBRM is currently running an online survey asking north end residents about their parking concerns, and whether they would be willing to see regulations amended so a café could open in the neighbourhood.

MacDonald said an open house will also be scheduled later this month to consider ways to balance growth and the needs of residents.

The municipality and its citizens need to discuss active transportation infrastructure, as well as improved transit options, that help reduce the need for parking, MacDonald said.

Those discussions could help residents, businesses and federal workers.

"I'm supportive of having that conversation, but that conversation has to include everyone, including the residential population that lives down there on a 12-month basis, and to try to find solutions, and hopefully they can help be part of those solutions," he said.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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