A concept rendering of the parkade showing size and shape, looking north east. — Marcel Tarnogorski via wayemason.ca Credit: Marcel Tarnogorski via wayemason.ca

Lindsay Construction will lead the design and construction of the new parkade and pedway on Summer Street as part of the QEII hospital project, the province announced on Thursday.

In a joint news release from the health and transportation and infrastructure renewal departments, the province said construction is scheduled to start next month and the project is expected to cost $29 million.

The request for proposals for design and construction was posted on April 16 and closed June 9. The release didn’t say how many other bids were submitted.

The project has been the subject of controversy since the original plan — for a seven-storey, 900-stall parkade on the south side of the Museum of Natural History on Summer Street — was unveiled in the fall.

Citing its own study saying it needs 2,700 parking spaces near the Halifax Infirmary, the province says it needs the new building before it tears down the existing parkade on Robie Street to make way for more hospital beds.

That first plan would’ve required the purchase — or expropriation — of municipal land and partially displaced municipal tenants the Bengal Lancers and the HFX Wanderers. It also included a heating plant on green space at the corner of Summer Street and Bell Road.

Renderings of the original and updated plans. — Marcel Tarnogorski via wayemason.ca

After hearing opposition from the public and Halifax regional council, the province changed its plans, opting instead for an eight-storey, 500-stall parkade on the north side of the museum and a pedway across Summer Street to the Halifax Infirmary. It moved the heating plant across to the hospital side of Summer Street.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a motion paving the way for the new plan at a special meeting in early April, reluctantly approving the pedway and a driveway over municipal land off Bell Road.

“This is not as bad as it could have been,” Coun. Shawn Cleary said during that meeting.

The municipality has no control over the size or design of the project because it’s on provincial land, but multiple councillors called on the province to prove with the parkade that it’s capable of decent design.

Thursday’s news release says Lindsay has assembled a design team consisting of Walter Fedy Architects, Fathom Studios, SDMM, Smith and Andersen, and BMR Engineering. The release included no new details on the design, and there are no renderings available from the province.

The province plans to build another parkade on the former CBC TV site at the corner of Bell Road and Summer Street with about 1,000 parking spaces.

While the new plan appeased councillors, advocacy group Friends of the Halifax Common remains unimpressed. Co-chair Peggy Cameron addressed the increased parking on land that is still part of the Halifax Common in a Chronicle Herald op-ed this week:

Along with a second parking garage on the former CBC-TV site, a total of at least 1,500 cars will now congest one of the city’s most walked, biked, played-on areas at the confluence of Citadel High, the Nova Scotia Museum, Bengal Lancers, Wanderers’ Grounds, skate park, soccer field, Oval, children’s playground and a proposed new aquatic centre. These will now face a wall of parking garages, enjoy a soundscape of traffic and emergency vehicles and endure the health harms of toxic emissions.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. Zane does it again!
    “Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a motion paving the way…”
    Thanks for starting my days with tongue-in-cheek word seeks, Zane.

  2. Cameron’s Op-Ed is on the nose, as is Andrew’s comment above. I remember living on the peninsula during my university years, and my eye was always caught by that big frog hanging off the corner of the museum. It’s a nice bit of property – and the idea of having a big ugly box thrown up beside the museum is offensive. It’s extremely difficult to regain green space once it’s lost, and the Halifax Commons has been chipped away at for decades. Do I remember that there was once a plan / proposal to daylight the creek that runs from the Public Gardens down through Victoria Park, similar to the Shubie Canal Greenway in Dartmouth?

    So many lost opportunities. And such a lack of vision among the developers, urban planners and politicians who seem unable to consider art / beauty / nature in their pursuit of some undefined, odd vision of the ‘modern city’. It would be grand if someone could put up an effective resistance against the likes of Armoyan, APL, etc. At least Friends of the Halifax Commons is there to bring public attention to these issues. And of course, Tim and his gang, without whom so much of this would be invisible to scrutiny.

  3. What an obnoxious and ugly use of public land this is, and one approved while no one was looking. That lawn beside the museum was a nice bit of unstructured green space- which the central common is not- and gave a sense of openness to that major corridor into downtown. Importantly, it also displayed the museum prominently and allowed signage promoting exhibitions to be seen. The museum, which is also a provincial property, will end up losing large numbers of visitors as a result of this thoughtless decision. The provincial and city governments seem intent on destroying every last bit of charm the city has to offer, and for what reason I have no idea. The hospital grounds and QEII site offer numerous other, better possible locations for this parkade, if in fact it is needed at all.