Posted: Aug 15, 2007, 11:48 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: the naam
No More Grand Parkade
From the Herald:
Grand Parade goes au naturel
By AMY PUGSLEY FRASER City Hall Reporter | 5:16 AM
The city’s Grand Parade can finally shed its parkade nickname — Mayor Peter Kelly and the 23 regional councillors have stopped parking in front of city hall.
Despite almost annual efforts over the past decade to oust the cars, this is the very first week that councillors haven’t been allowed to drive into the circular lot at the Halifax heritage building.
"It’s been a long time coming," Jacqueline Hamilton, manager of the city’s Capital district, said in an interview Tuesday.
"And that vista you get of city hall is quite beautiful."
Black wrought iron benches and flower planters have replaced the cheek-by-jowl cars in the former parking circle.
The quick fixes are just short-term improvements but they’re "pretty exciting," Ms. Hamilton said.
And, to enforce the new standard, the driveway to city hall now features a gate preventing cars from getting through.
Future attention will be focused on using the green space for events and lunchtime concerts.
As well, the city will now start looking into implementing some of the ideas brought forward in its Grand Parade master plan, she said.
A recent report to council suggested an amphitheatre, carved into the side of the Argyle Street slope, and a skating rink could improve the park.
So the next phase will be furthering some of the detail design work on those and other projects, Ms. Hamilton said.
"That will be a multiple-year (plan) and we’ll need funding to get moving on it," she said.
Coun. Dawn Sloane (Halifax Downtown), one of the key proponents of banning cars from city hall’s front yard, said Tuesday she’s delighted it has finally happened.
"I’m happy to see people using the benches, just sitting around and enjoying the Grand Parade," she said in an interview.
"It’s great. That’s what it’s supposed to be — a park."
Likewise, Mr. Kelly said he’s pleased with the transformation.
"We’ve had lots of commentary from people who say ‘Thanks for giving us the space back’ and ‘It looks great.’ "
Councillors are now parking across the street in a lot that was, for years, the site of Birks’ downtown flagship store.
Although some councillors protested the move to Barrington Street, Mr. Kelly says it’s not a big deal to have his car in a different place.
"There’s no difference," he said. "And you get to pick up some garbage along the way."
Regional councillors have been parking in the Grand Parade since amalgamation in 1996. Minutes from regional council meetings reveal that motions and requests surrounding parking in the Grand Parade date back to 1997.
The campaign to rid the public square of cars has been ongoing since May 2004 when members of TRAX, the Ecology Action Centre’s transportation wing, teamed up with the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.
Together, they presented a petition of over 1,000 names to councillors encouraging them to return the city centre, which they referred to as the Grand Parkade, back to green space.
They pointed out that, as far back as the city’s founding in 1749, the Grand Parade was used for military drills and public meetings.