Nova Scotia

Province hits pause on tender for hospital parking garage in Halifax

The provincial government is putting a two-week hold on a tender it recently issued to build a new parking garage as part of the expansion at the Halifax Infirmary.

HRM, province examining possibility of extending project into part of Summer Street

A new parking garage and power plant for the Halifax Infirmary could go on hospital property and partially extend onto the west side of Summer Street. (CBC)

The province is pausing a tender it recently issued to build a parking garage as part of the expansion at the Halifax Infirmary.

A two-week hold was announced on Tuesday.

The project, which initially called for a seven-storey structure with at least 800 spaces on the site of the current parking lot for the Museum of Natural History, was the source of growing animosity between the provincial and municipal governments.

Some people, including the local councillor, expressed concerns about the loss of green space around the Halifax Common and the effect the project would have on the Bengal Lancers and Halifax Wanderers soccer club.

Recently, the two levels of government announced a compromise that could see the garage and a new power plant relocated to hospital property, possibly extending into part of the west side of Summer Street.

"There's some good progress being made with discussions right now with [Halifax Regional Municipality] over these ideas," John O'Connor, vice-president of infrastructure for the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department, told reporters in Halifax on Tuesday.

John O’Connor, the vice-president of infrastructure at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure renewal, speaks with reporters on Wednesday. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

In the meantime, the department decided to pause the tender, he said.

"We think we'll hopefully find a solution within another few weeks."

O'Connor said issues to resolve include determining what a change in location would mean to traffic flow in the area.

Even with the potential changes, O'Connor said department staff believe the goal of having work begin on the new garage by May remains possible.

Government officials have said work on the redevelopment project cannot begin before the current parking garage on Robie Street is demolished. For that to happen, replacement parking must be in place.

Temporary solutions

O'Connor said the department is also looking at temporary parking options that could be used during the construction process.

That could mean parking lots or a smaller garage somewhere, but O'Connor declined to identify the properties the department is considering other than to say he hopes they would be close to the hospital property.

"We haven't talked to the people that own those properties," he said.

Regardless of what happens, O'Connor said he expects a temporary parking lot that was built to the north of the museum will remain in place for at least the duration of construction of the redevelopment project.

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With files from Jean Laroche

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