Critical Questions Before Halifax Trades Common for Cars | Ecology Action Centre

Critical Questions Before Halifax Trades Common for Cars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 7, 2020  

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Provincial plans to build a seven-storey parking garage on a portion of the Halifax Common raises serious questions for the Ecology Action Centre (EAC). EAC challenges the rationale of giving priority to parking over greenspace in light of provincial and municipal plans for climate change mitigation which include sustainable active transportation strategies. 

EAC Sustainable Transportation Coordinator, Kelsey Lane says "It’s unclear how the proposed parking garage will impact active transportation corridors that are integral to meet our target of reducing private vehicle use to 70 per cent of HRM resident’s mode share." 

“Since the 2006 Regional Plan, council has been setting goals to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use and achieve 30 per cent combined mode share of walking, biking and transit use,” Lane says.   

“If we don’t make investments that get more people cycling, walking and using transit, we will be shouldering future generations with the economic, health and environmental burden associated with the current trend of increasing car use in HRM.” 

A recent request for proposal reveals that the parkade intends to provide parking for 900 vehicles.   

EAC Executive Director, Chris Stover questions whether planners have considered how the current revolution in green transportation will impact the future need for 900 car park spaces.   

“The fundamental physical building will have a service life for at least 50 years, and likely more. It will be there for a long time – well into a future full of change. Will we need 900 stalls then? Probably not,” Stover says.  

“The project also raises questions about the impact of loss of valuable green space on public wellbeing. EAC believes a parking garage inhibits access to amenities that improve quality of life for us all, and perpetuates health and environmental consequences which we are making significant investment and efforts to reverse." 

EAC asks the following:  

  • What data was employed to determine 900 parking stalls are required and how was the need prioritized? 
     

  • What vehicles will occupy the stalls, and in service of what needs? 
     

  • What consideration was given to public and active transportation studies?  
     

  • What evaluation tools were used to determine the need for parking in relation to less dependency on cars? 
     

  • What consideration was given to park-and-ride, the promotion of carpooling, ridesharing and other car reducing strategies?  
     

  • If parking can be significantly reduced, how much essential parking can be incorporated within the new building footprint?  

Construction on a new hospital won’t begin until 2021 and is expected to take five years to complete. The EAC believes this allows time and opportunity to be creative with planning, and find solutions that incorporate a more aggressive climate change focused approach.  

Halifax architect and EAC Board Member, John Crace says “We linger on traditional solutions to current problems because it seems safer, but we’ve seen that the future so often undermines those tried solutions, that it begs an examination of whether the right questions are being well considered in this case.”  

The EAC encourages concerned citizens to ask the important questions and apply pressure on decision makers to bring planning in line with the climate emergency.

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The Ecology Action Centre is a member-based environmental charity in Nova Scotia, providing leadership on the critical issues of biodiversity protection, climate change, and environmental justice.  

To arrange an interview, please contact:  

Gillian Wesley
Strategic Communications Manager, Ecology Action Centre
communications@ecologyaction.ca