Halifax Mobility Response: Streets and Spaces

The Mobility Response Plan was initiated in 2020 to respond to the changing needs of streets and sidewalks due to COVID-19. In 2020, the municipality implemented temporary adjustments to the transportation network, as part of the collective effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As the need for physical distancing will remain in place for the foreseeable future, and as transportation patterns evolve throughout the recovery phase, the municipality is continuing to identify required adaptations to the use of its streets, sidewalks and bikeways to support mobility options for residents and visitors in the Halifax region.

Mobility Response Plan 2021 

Space to Move 

The 2021 Slow Street program will be implemented using tactical urbanism materials (curbs, planters, bollards, etc.) to reduce maintenance and monitoring needs and improve overall impact for people using active transportation. The Slow Street network will have a smaller scope than in 2020 year but will be focused on prioritizing corridors based on equity criteria and outcomes and will explore potential routes within and outside of the Regional Centre. 

Space to Support Business

To support businesses in 2021 during the lingering impacts of COVID-19, HRM will work with the business community to determine opportunities to provide additional space. This includes coordinating changes to the street to allow for expanded patio and outdoor dining areas. 

Bedford Row 

Starting end-of-day Wednesday June 2, 2021, Bedford Row will be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic between the Founders Square parking garage and Prince Street to allow for additional patio space. This part of Bedford Row is open to people walking and rolling, and closed to people cycling.

The area between the Founders Square parking garage and Sackville Street will be converted from one-way to two-way traffic. To accommodate this adjustment, the east side of Bedford Row will be converted to a No Stopping/Tow-away zone. The two parking spaces on the west side of Bedford Row will be converted into loading spaces and an additional loading space will be added on Prince Street. This is to support access to the parking garage and businesses in the area, which will be maintained at all times.

Grafton Street

Grafton Street, between Carmichael and Prince streets, will be temporarily converted into a one-way, southbound street also to allow for additional patio space.

Sidewalks will remain open on both sides of the street, and the street is open for people walking, rolling, and cycling. Parking and loading spaces will not be impacted while this adjustment is in place.

Argyle Street  

As part of the 2021 response, Argyle Street between Prince and Blowers streets will be closed to vehicle traffic April 15, 2021 until November 1, 2021. Argyle Street will remain fully open to people walking, rolling and cycling. Access to all stores and restaurants will be maintained.  The purpose of this closure is to support small businesses in the area while still adhering to public health guidelines.

2020 Mobility Response Plan 

To support mobility of residents and create more space for businesses during the early impacts of COVID-19, HRM implemented temporary changes to our streets and sidewalks. Some of the highlights from the 2020 program include:

  • Addition of temporary expanded sidewalks on Spring Garden Road and Quinpool Road to support walking and rolling while allowing residents to remain physically-distanced;
  • Implementation of 16 km of Slow Streets in the Regional Centre to support active transportation on local streets and pilot several Local Street Bikeway candidate routes in the IMP;
  • Closure of Argyle Street and Bedford Row, as well as other street changes, to accommodate a larger number and footprint of patios for physically-distanced dining and to encourage street life;
  • Addition of temporary loading spaces in front of businesses to allow them to adapt for more curbside pick-ups and deliveries; and,
  • Acceleration of a tactical protected bicycle lane on Lower Water Street to complement the AAA cycling facility built on Hollis Street this year.

For a more detailed description of the 2020 Mobility Response Plan, the full staff report can be found here

Mobility Response Plan Engagement – What We Heard 

Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on the Mobility Response Plan in 2020. We received many great ideas for changes to our streets and sidewalks and feedback on the temporary measures that we implemented. All of the feedback we received was summarized into the Mobility Response Plan Engagement Summary Report (see link below). 

This information has been highly valuable for shaping our approach to the Mobility Response Plan in 2021. Additionally, much of the feedback was related to other municipal initiatives like the traffic calming program, streetscaping program, or active transportation planning. While we were not able to address all these suggestions through the Mobility Response Plan, we have collected this feedback for those programs to inform future permanent changes.