Nova Scotia

Work on controversial QE2 parking garage to start in November

Work is scheduled to start in November on a controversial parking garage that has undergone four design or location changes, the latest to make life easier for its next door neighbour, the Museum of Natural History.

Newest plan will see 500-space parking structure front on Summer Street

This is the latest design for the parking garage planned for Summer Street in Halifax. it will be located on the north side of the Museum of Natural History. (Province of Nova Scotia)

A 500-space parking garage that was relocated twice to ensure it would not impede or disrupt a downtown riding school or a soccer club has undergone yet another change.

The parkade is part of the multi-billion dollar expansion of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

That structure, which at last plan was to be built alongside Halifax's Museum of Natural History, has been shifted 90 degrees so that it will mostly front on Summer Street. That new plan by provincial authorities was presented last week to municipal politicians at Halifax City Hall.

According to John O'Connor, vice-president of infrastructure at Nova Scotia Lands, a provincial Crown corporation, the move will make it easier for large trucks to access the museum's loading docks and it will create two green spaces, instead of one.

John O’Connor is the vice-president of infrastructure at Nova Scotia Lands, a provincial Crown corporation. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

"It's the same size as the 500 [space garage] that we planned," said O'Connor. "[The] exact same footprint, same number of cars, same number of storeys."

O'Connor said the footings for the eight-storey building should go in starting in November.

The structure will be prefabricated and assembled on site. O'Connor said the parkade might be ready to open in about a year's time.

The structure is needed because an existing parking structure on Robie Street will be torn down to make room for expanded inpatient rooms, research facilities and a new cancer centre.

O'Connor said the Summer Street parkade needed to be completed before any of that other work can go ahead.

"This will be done before we take down the other garage," he said. "It won't replace all the vehicles that are in the other garage, but it's the best we can do right now."

Based on anticipated demand, there will be a need for roughly 2,700 parking spaces once the redevelopment is complete. The current plan falls short by more than 400 spaces, which will be a major problem for hospital employees.

"We've had conversation with other landlords to see if they can make up some more spaces that would be available for staff within walking distance."

Peggy Cameron of Friends of Halifax Commons was not impressed with the new plan. (CBC)

Peggy Cameron of Friends of Halifax Commons was no more impressed with the new plan than previous ones on land that was originally set aside for the public good.

"I guess the two issues are reducing reliance on individual cars and preserving the little remaining green space on the Halifax Common," she told CBC News on Monday. "About 20 to 25 per cent of the Halifax Common is [already] used for parking and the vast majority of that is for hospitals."

She said it all removes green space. 

"It's putting a pedway across Summer Street and it's still abdicating the role that the Nova Scotia Health Authority has in reducing reliance on vehicles," said Cameron.

"We know that these are contributing to climate change. We know that vehicle emissions are contributing to health effects."

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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