Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) are calling on the Halifax Regional Municipal and Nova Scotia governments to scrap the $30 million dollar, 500-stall, 8-storey parking garage planned for the Nova Scotia Museum property as part of the proposed $2 billion dollar QEII hospital expansion.
The province has recently come to the city with yet a fourth version of the parking garage and pedway over Summer Street, flipping the orientation, increasing easement requirements and chewing up more of Halifax Common’s green space.
“It is time for the Mayor and Council to say to the Province that no parking garage is needed at all, and it is time to say that HRM’s policies are for no more loss of green space on the Common,” said Howard Epstein, FHC director. “Finally, Council needs to remind the Province that under section 213 of the HRM Charter it has pledged to take HRM land-use policies into consideration.” Epstein is a former City Councillor, 5-term MLA and planning professor at Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law.
FHC maintains that the QEII hospital re-development should be restricted to Halifax Common lands already assembled by the Nova Scotia Health Authority. The Authority already plans additional underground parking under the new hospital buildings and a second 1000-stall parking garage on the former CBC-TV site. 20-25% of the Halifax Common is used for parking, the majority by the Health Authority.
In February, FHC presented a ~3,000 signature electronic petition to City Hall and to the NS Legislature. The signatories opposed plans for a 7-storey parking garage and steam plant on the south side of the NS Museum. A second HRM Council “compromise” plan with the Province to instead build these on a western portion of Summer Street failed. Now the third 8-storey parking garage option needs more easement and a new orientation.
In a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about land swaps between HRM and the Province it was agreed ‘as a condition of sale, (that HRM and the Province) approve the key Urban Design Principles and Site Planning Guidelines’ and Collaborative Planning. So far the Province is not following that or any of the other conditions outlined in the MOU.
FHC believe that both levels of government need to work together and pursue better options to solve parking problems at the hospital. These could include park and ride, shuttle buses, employee e-passes, and car share arrangements.
It obvious that Lloyd Hines, NS Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal does not understand what a bad idea the new parking garage is. We are 10 years from a climate catastrophe, and the minister is fiddling while the city burns. The Mayor and Council should stop dancing to the tune.