Nova Scotia·Before and After

Halifax, you've changed: 10 years of Google Street View

In 2009, Google Street view began taking 360º photos of nearly every street in Halifax. A decade later, those images are still available and show how dramatically the city has evolved.

Images collected over the past decade reveal the city's transformation

Call it Halifax's own #10YearChallenge. 

Google's ambitious Street View project arrived in Halifax in 2009. Since it first started capturing images of city streets a decade ago, the tech giant has returned to Halifax multiple times to update its catalogue.

The result is a unique opportunity to see how Halifax has changed. Scroll down to see the before-and-after of a growing Halifax Regional Municipality. 

Parking lot becomes modern library

Modern buildings like the Halifax Central Library can drastically change the look and feel of a neighbourhood. The award-winning space opened to the public in 2014, and has since welcomed visitors in numbers that far exceeded expectations. 

The Mary Anne building across the street was already under construction when the library opened. 

Heritage makes way for high-rise

In 2009, Halifax regional council approved the Victoria Suites mixed-used building to replace a 19th-century apartment building with its wraparound verandas. Some heritage advocates wanted the old building on the corner saved, while others believed the new building would help rejuvenate the area. 

One building that was saved is Morris House. Built in 1764, it was home to Nova Scotia's chief surveyors. It was lifted on to trucks and moved to Charles and Creighton streets in the North End

High school becomes green space

It wasn't easy tearing down Queen Elizabeth High School. The original contractor was fired mid-way through the job. A few months later, a 70-year-old time capsule was discovered in the wreckage. 

Once the building was gone, ownership of the land was transferred to the Nova Scotia Health Authority. While it decided what to do, a green space and urban farm were created.

Now, after seven growing seasons, the gardeners are being asked to make way for the next phase of the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre 

Underpass replaces trees

The Washmill Lake Underpass gave drivers a third entrance to the Bayers Lake Business Park. It also helped drive development of several residential buildings nearby.

In 2010, the city estimated the project would cost $10 million. By 2014, the underpass was still not fully completed, and in 2015 the province's auditor general estimated the total cost would be at least $11 million over budget.

New horizon at old refinery 

The Imperial Oil refinery was a dominant feature of the skyline for Woodside residents for nearly a century.

Its decommissioning was announced in 2013. At the time, the company said the facility was not competitive because of its relatively small size. It also said a glut of oil on the market made it too expensive to continue operating.

In 2015, some industry experts suggested the conversion of the refinery into an oil terminal was partly to blame for a gasoline shortage that happened in the summer of that year.  

Work to remove the above ground infrastructure was slow going. It wasn't until 2016 that Imperial Oil held an auction for the equipment

King's Wharf

What was once a nondescript spit of land is now a housing jewel in Dartmouth's crown. The massive project ran into several hiccups along the way, including a delay because CN rail was slow to give permission to cross its tracks that border the property.

More changes could be coming to King's Wharf soon, including a new fifth building that would be even taller than the rest. 

The world turns

Perhaps not the most spectacular of metamorphoses, but changes to the way people get around can have a big impact.

Over the past decade, Halifax has added roundabouts in several locations, including at the five-way intersection at Cogswell Street and North Park Street. 

Intended to ease congestion, construction of these traffic circles caused months worth of headaches for drivers. 

It's estimated that 20,000 vehicles pass through the intersection every day.

The new kid on two blocks

The Halifax Convention Centre is so big, it straddles a section of Grafton Street. In many ways, Google Street View fails to capture the scale of the project because unobstructed shots from ground level are too close to fit into frame. 

Over budget and overdue, the centre officially opened to the public in January 2018. Parts of the complex remain unfinished. Nevertheless, the centre celebrated its first birthday to mark the more than 140 events and 90,000 delegates that have come through its doors so far.

About the Author

Blair Sanderson is an award-winning nationally syndicated current affairs reporter for CBC Radio. He's based in Halifax, where he's worked for 10 years. Contact blair.sanderson@cbc.ca

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