Public to get Halifax waterfront access to space normally used by cruise ships
'It's an opportunity for us to be innovative and think a bit differently,' says Port of Halifax CEO
Some setbacks have a silver lining, and this one comes with a great view.
The Port of Halifax will soon allow the public to use a space along the waterfront that is typically reserved for cruise ship passengers and infrastructure.
"It's an opportunity for us to be innovative and think a bit differently," says Port of Halifax CEO Allan Gray.
The space will open Friday and measures roughly five metres wide by 75 metres long. As more pieces of cruise infrastructure are relocated, crews will be able to extend public access to roughly 200 metres.
The idea came from port staff and local business leaders, who saw the space wasn't being used this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cruise season cancellation.
"It's quite a devastating loss for the economy, the cruise ships not being able to come," said Gray.
"But with some of these disappointments come new opportunities. And there's an opportunity here to use that space and to run events that still comply with the health authority requirements," he said.
The new space, called the brow, has been closed to the public for nearly two decades.
After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, international security standards were increased. Since the brow is used as a space for international travellers, it's given similar security considerations as an airport.
Most years, thousands of foreign travellers wander off visiting ships, into the fenced space and through a security checkpoint.
No ships this year means those fence gates will be swung wide open.
Physical distancing key to the plan
Crews have spent the past few days preparing the space.
They've measured distances between chairs and benches to ensure people remain at least two metres apart.
The new space will also help take pressure off the demand for space in the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market when it reopens.
"The advantage of opening the brow up is it gives us space for people to sit, so we won't have as many people in the farmers market," Gray said.