Halifax to widen some sidewalks to allow for physical distancing
Wider sidewalks just one of the measures announced Monday by city officials to help slow spread of COVID-19
Halifax is taking its first steps toward creating safer urban spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both sidewalks along Spring Garden Road between Queen and South Park streets, as well as the north side of Quinpool Road between Quingate Place and Monastery Lane, will be widened by temporarily removing parking and loading zones.
"As the need for social distancing will remain in place for the foreseeable [future], it's important we identify the necessary changes to our streets, sidewalks and bike lanes to reduce the spread of COVID-19," said Jacques Dubé, HRM's chief administrative officer.
At a Monday briefing, he said the municipality had spent $65,000 on extra pylons and barriers. The move will close three bus stops. The wider sidewalks should be in place by May 29. Additional loading zones for affected businesses will be set up.
Traffic signals have also been modified at nine different intersections to reduce pedestrian wait times. Some are found on Oxford Street, Robie Street, Dunbrack Street and the Bedford Highway.
Dubé said these steps are just the first phase and other changes will be announced in early June. Street closures are being considered, but city officials are still discussing the idea with the business community to make sure it works for everyone.
Mayor Mike Savage thinks the closure of certain streets could be good for local shops and cafés.
"Sometimes when you close streets to cars, you open them to people and that's good for business," said Savage. "That's also good for the morale of neighbourhoods."
Both the mayor and Dubé agreed Argyle Street is one of the streets being considered for closure.
On Tuesday, Halifax regional council will consider a proposal by city staff to waive the fees for businesses that set up sidewalk cafés. If approved, the move will cost the municipality about $40,000.