Halifax to widen sidewalks of busy streets to reduce spread of COVID-19
HALIFAX -- Some of Halifax's busiest streets will soon have more room for pedestrians to move around, as part of the municipality's response to COVID-19.
“As the need for social distancing will remain in place for the foreseeable future, it is important we identify necessary changes to our streets, sidewalks and bike lanes as part of our collective effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said during a news update on Monday.
Jacques Dubé, Halifax’s chief administrative officer, announced phase one of Halifax's "COVID-19 mobility response plan," which includes widening busy sidewalks, adding loading zones and other adjustments to public areas.
Sidewalks on both sides of Spring Garden Road between South Park and Queen Streets will be widened temporarily by removing parking and loading spaces.
The northbound sidewalk on Quinpool Road between Quingate Place and Monastery Lane will be also widened by removing parking and loading spaces.
"This plan does a number of things for us. It will help our main streets, and those businesses to maximize their revenue when they come back. It will also contribute to physical distancing, as it will increase the capacity of some of these establishments, which is very important. And it will increase the vibrancy of the city," said Savage.
Dubé says the municipality has invested about $65,000 in barriers and pylons to block off parking to increase the sidewalk space.
Traffic signal crossings are also being modified at busy intersections to reduce wait times by encouraging people to keep moving. That includes intersections on Quinpool Road, Oxford Street, Robie Street, Joseph Howe Drive, Bedford Highway, Dunbrack Street, Connaught Avenue, Bayers Road, and Young Street.
Temporary loading spaces will be added across Halifax and Dartmouth to encourage people to keep moving and allow businesses to safely load and unload goods.
"These temporary measures will be a great opportunity. COVID-19 is a pandemic and a serious crisis, but with crisis comes opportunity. This is an opportunity to do some interesting things and explore things," said Dubé.
Mayor Savage says he expects more changes to come in the near future.
“I look forward to more initiatives to make it easier to move throughout the city, and to provide additional space for patio expansions, for bars and for restaurants," said Savage.
Savage also alluded to Haligonians continuing to support the local economy as businesses continue to reopen.
“This is Halifax, we are known for our welcoming nature. As we move into a new phase let's be true to ourselves and kind to each other as we find ways to enjoy our city," said Savage. “That means a need to support our local businesses as much as we possibly can, whether that means a summer staycation, weekly takeout or just a simple buy local pledge.”
Two portable toilets -- one accessible -- have already been installed in the back of the Halifax Central Library for public use.
Paid parking will be enforced effective June 1, after the municipality suspended the enforcement of paid and hourly parking in response to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 19.
As of June 1, all parking meters will be on and enforced as per usual. Accessible parking, tow-away zones and transit lanes will continue to be fully enforced.
The municipality's final budget will be presented to council on Tuesday, June 9.