HALIFAX – If you liked the look of Argyle Street in downtown Halifax this summer, there could be additional streets in the downtown core which will also be renovated into a ‘streetscape’ as it’s called.
Argyle street – between Sackville and Blowers – was painted this summer with an argyle pattern as part of a pilot project to make the block more pedestrian friendly and to provide space for community events known as a ‘shared streetscape.’
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“We were very pleased with the response we had from the public,” said Paul MacKinnon, Executive Director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. “The social media was incredible – right across the country. People were talking about the fact the street was painted – and we’re trying to share street concept, which means pedestrians can intermingle with cars on the street, and we found that went really well.”
Business owners were also happy with the arrangement. “It was a great experience. It was just a fantastic atmosphere,” said Chris Tzaneteas, owner of the Argyle Bar and Grill. “I’ve never seen so many people on Argyle Street walking around. I’ve never seen so many photographs taken of Argyle Street. In my books it was an extremely successful pilot project.”
MacKinnon said he’s heard nothing but positive feedback from businesses. “A lot of them said business had improved over last summer,” said MacKinnon.
As part of the project, the street was closed to vehicles from Thursday night to Sunday night. “The pattern slowed down vehicles even when the street wasn’t fully closed,” said Tzaneteas.
Now the city wants to extend the streetscape along Argyle, as well as on Grafton St., and widen one side of both Prince and Carmichael streets. There’s a call for design consultants to price the project with an October 1st deadline.
“We’re looking for help to finish the design and how to make this a permanent improvement for argyle street,” said Jacob Ritchie, an Urban Design Manager with Halifax. “We want to make sure the streets around the Nova Centre actually respond well to what’s being proposed on the Nova Centre property.”
By next spring the city will have $10.2-million in a reserve for the project, which will require a lot of infrastructure work to be done.
“We’ll be digging the street up and doing the pipe work as well as doing the sidewalks. We’ll be doing the roadbed. We’ll be doing the lights,” said Ritchie.
Curbs are likely to disappear as well to make it even more pedestrian friendly.
“It’s just going to bring more people into the downtown core,” said Tzaneteas.
The design is expected to be finalized by July of next year. No word on when construction will start, but the goal is to have it complete by the time the Nova Centre opens in 2017.