Halifax council approves streetscaping, upgrade plans
Argyle Street, Spring Garden Road expected to get widened curbs, new trees and street lighting
Halifax regional council has given its approval for two streetscaping plans on parts of Argyle Street and Spring Garden Road worth a total of $17 million.
"All of these streetscapings are desperately needed," said Waye Mason, Councillor for District 7 Halifax South Downtown.
"Sidewalk and paving have been held off for basically 10 years waiting for streetscaping."
The municipality first tried to cost share $50 million worth of streetscaping projects with the provincial and federal governments, but they were ruled ineligible. Halifax now plans to cover most of the costs itself and has set aside $16.7 million.
Where to expect changes
The upgrades for the Argyle District will take place on the blocks between Blowers Street and Prince Street, as well as Grafton Street between Prince and Carmichael Streets. The total cost is $6.8 million, but planners expect about $200,000 from the Nova Centre development.
The work involves removing the curbs, installing decorative pavers and widening the sidewalks to encourage a pedestrian-friendly zone.
"Cars will be able to still go down the street but they really are kind of guests," said Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. "It'll be easily closeable for events on weekends or in evenings."
The proposal also features decorative lighting, street furniture, planters, public art and possibly canopies. Outside patios could also become permanent.
Some streetscaping work will be done in the fall and then completed next spring.
New trees, street lighting
Once the improvements are in place, Halifax will have to spend $400,000 for specialized equipment for snow removal and garbage pickup in the area.
Municipal officials say the equipment could used in other areas of the city, but the expense has been included in the Argyle Street project.
The upgrades along Spring Garden Road between Queen Street and South Park Street are estimated at $11 million. They involve putting the power and communication lines underground, decorative street lighting and new trees.
'A long ways away'
The Spring Garden Road plan is based on a report completed in 2009 and envisions an attractive corridor between the newly-built Central Library and the Public Gardens.
But while some traffic light improvements and street repaving is planned this year, most of the work on the Spring Garden project will take place after Argyle Street is finished. Halifax planners are worried about the Argyle project work going over budget and reducing the amount of funds available.
"We've been told we're looking at 2020. That's a long ways away," said Juanita Spencer, the executive director of the Spring Garden Road Business Commission. "We'd really like to see things happen a little faster."
The Spring Garden Road Business Commission also hopes other low-cost changes can be made this year, such as the removal of bus stops between Queen Street and South Park Streets and limiting daytime loading activity.