Atlantic Canada’s Largest City is Undergoing Atlantic Canada’s Largest Streetscape Investment


Video Published to YouTube June 1, 2016 by Halifax Regional Municipality

Halifax is certainly Atlantic Canada’s economic capital.  With just over four hundred thousand people, it has been seeing unprecedented growth and change.  The new multi-billion dollar Federal Shipbuilding Contract is certainly one of the foundations of this growth, but both public and private investment is impressive.

Halifax City centre has seen many wonderful changes.  Several new mixed used developments have been completed, and several new condo projects are now underway bringing new residential density and vibrancy to the downtown.

One of the largest new developments is the new Convention Centre and the surrounding Streetscape.

Video published to YouTube Jan 6, 2016 by Halifax Convention Centre

Argyle and Grafton Streets are at the heart of Halifax’s vibrant bar district.  With the emergence of the new Convention Centre, even more people will be spilling into the streets during events and enjoying Halifax’s legendary party culture.  Dated concrete streetscapes are now being re-imagined into wonderful, fun, full amenity public spaces.

Argyle and Grafton Streets will implement integrated Streetscaping or “Shared Street” principles where cars, cyclists and pedestrians easily meander together in the space.  This strategy uses low profile curbs and complementary surface materials to eliminate the usual dividing structures between street and sidewalk.  This technique slows and reduces traffic, improves pedestrian safety while still providing space for delivery and drop off vehicles.  It is also ideal for an enhanced patio culture.

The new Argyle and Grafton Streetscape is an example of full spectrum Streetscaping utilizing all the elements of Streetscaping.  This is certainly the most expensive example of Streetscaping, but the additional costs can be justified by the revenue growth that will be experienced by all the neighboring businesses.  These two Streetscapes will become significant focal points for dining and entertainment.

Streetscaping does not have to be this complex to accomplish community growth.  Indeed just planting a few trees can improve a streetscape immeasurably.  However in the case of a high density, entertainment district application, this new Streetscape will be a wonderful success bringing higher private sector investment, revenues and taxes for decades to come.

There are only 5 Elements to Streetscaping and the return on investment is extraordinary.

1.  TREES AND PLANTINGS include considerations for plant species, shade, spacing, canopy, colour, root chambers, fixed or movable planters, as well as green storm water management plans.

2.  UNDERGROUND UTILITY LINES include considerations for joint trench design, at-grade or below grade equipment, Smart meters and fault detection, lamp posts, WI-FI, fibre capacity, Smart sensors etc.

3.  STREET DIMENSIONS AND PAVING include considerations for “Complete Street” designs for pedestrians and cyclists with widened side walks, cycle lanes, accessibility, traffic volumes and patterns, traffic calming measures, medians. parking requirements, transit requirements and surface materials and design.

4.  CURBS AND SIDE WALKS include considerations for “Shared Street” designs, side walk widths, cafe seating, bulb outs, dedicated or integrated cycle lanes, side walk materials, accessible curbing, storm drainage choices especially green storm water management utilizing planting swales, rain gardens and permeable surfaces.

5.  FIXTURES AND FURNISHINGS include considerations for LED lighting, Wi-Fi, Smart Sensors, flexible seating, waste receptacles, water fountains, movable planters, public art, way-finding and signage.

Congratulations Halifax for building this wonderful, beautiful public space!


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