Council OK’s proposal aimed at shifting controversial QEII parkade

Halifax regional council voted unanimously on Tuesday to start a process to close a part of Summer Street in order to shift the location of a controversial proposed hospital parking garage.

“There is no formal plan at this juncture, there is no hard and fast rule about exactly what we may or may not do,” Coun. Waye Mason told council.

“It’s an option to explore how we can make the province’s QEII site a little bit larger to support having the power plant and parkade on that site.”

Late last month, Nova Scotia’s Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department issued a tender for the construction of a new parking garage as part of the QEII hospital redevelopment project.

In its current proposal, the parkade would have up to 900 spaces and would be built south of the Museum of Natural History on Summer Street. Mason worried about the project’s impact on the Halifax Common, and both the Bengal Lancers equestrian school and Wanderers soccer club have raised concerns.

The proposal also indicates a new power plant for the Halifax Infirmary would be constructed on the other side of the museum at Summer Street and Bell Road.

“If this works out with these changes, then you would not need the power plant or the parking garage on the east side next to the natural history museum,” Mason told CBC News.

“Giving that extra land is a potential concession that HRM can do that frees up a little bit of room on the site so they can move things around and get it all there.

“It’s still early days. So we have to see now that they’ve got direction to have that conversation, we’ll see what comes.”

Co-locate parkade and power plant

Mason’s motion on Tuesday was to direct the municipality’s CAO, in co-operation with the province, to close a portion of the west side of Summer Street to permit the province to “co-locate” the proposed parkade and power plant with the main QEII site.

“So that could be narrowing Summer Street or realigning Summer Street, or it could be making it a one-way,” Mason told council. “It might not have any impact at all. We don’t know yet. But this is the direction that staff need to do that.”

Halifax CAO Jacques Dubé told council the municipality and the province have been working together to identify “alternate design options and locations for the QEII parkade and heating plant that would actually be different than where it is assigned at the moment.”

“Once more detailed site surveys and specifics of this process have been finalized with the province … the municipality will look for public engagement regarding changes to Summer Street,” Dubé said.

“So that’s where we are, it’s been a very productive time.”

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