On a bright, sunny afternoon, Spring Garden Road is normally bustling with pedestrians, cyclists and traffic.
But on Monday, July 4, the street will look different than usual, when the city launches its “daytime-only transit pilot.”
“On Monday you will see some regulatory changes to signage,” says Elora Wilkinson, Halifax’s senior urban design planner. “You’ll also see banners to communicate and help people know what’s coming.”
“You will also see an improved application plan, you will see HRP in the region, really focused on education at the start,” she adds.
The pilot project means that every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the only motor vehicles allowed on Spring Garden Road between Queen and South Park streets will be city buses and emergency vehicles.
Personal vehicles, taxis, delivery vehicles and carpools will not be permitted.
The city says the idea is to improve the street for those who use it the most.
“So the pedestrian experience, reducing some of the noise on the street, the congestion, but also creating a space where transit can pass reliably,” says Wilkinson.
Some pedestrians say they are ready to change.
“I think it would be a really good thing to try, I’m really curious to see how it works next year,” says David Langelaan, who works nearby.
Ottawa visitors Carole Prevost and Sylvie Emond agree.
“I love it!” said Prevost. “It’s also quieter, when you’re just the walking pedestrian.”
Although Emond thinks closing the street daily may be too big a change.
“I think it’s a good idea,” she says, “but I would only do it on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays.”
Vehicles will be able to use the side streets to cross Spring Garden Road and pass through the area.
This means traffic can pass southbound on Birmingham Street, northbound on Dresden Row and northbound on Brenton Street (a left turn is only required on Spring Garden to South Park Street).
The town is also transformed Clyde Street into a two-way street between South Park and Brenton Streets.
But some who rely on getting their vehicles into the area for a living are predicting trouble.
“You can’t really stop near that corner so you’d have to go back fifty yards,” says taxi driver Dave Buffett, pointing to where a taxi may be brought in to pick up a customer instead of being able to stop in the street. .
Buffett, who is also the head of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Association, says the changes will force some customers to walk further to catch their cabs.
“I can see a lot of confusion, I can see a lot of missed calls because they went to the wrong corner for example. So I don’t see any positives,” Buffett says.
Some companies agree, with a recent poll conducted by the Spring Garden Road Business Association that found opinions among 100 respondents split in two.
Stephen MacNeil of Citadel Music says the past two years on the street have been anything but smooth for his company, so he’s just hoping for the best.
“It’s hard to say,” MacNeil says when asked what it might do to his clientele.
“We just went through COVID,” says MacNeil. “The street was completely closed last year, for example, the sidewalks are about a meter wide (for streetscape construction), so it can’t be worse than before.”