E-News April 2021

News

Pine Street Court
HRM is considering making changes to the tennis court in Pine Street Park. The single court is located at the very back of the Park adjacent to Devonshire Street and it doesn’t appear to see much tennis use. When a space is largely empty, sometimes the community develops other uses on their own, and this seems to be what’s happened at Pine Street. Over the last few years, the largely empty Pine Street court has been filled unofficially with some ball hockey, and a lot of skateboarding. There was a fair bit of homemade skateboarding equipment stashed on the court and it has attracted a regular community of skateboarders. HRM received a 311 complaint about the Court and, since it’s officially a tennis court, staff posted a sign on Thursday advising that all equipment would need to be removed.

Pine Street Do It Yourself Skateboard Equipment

I have been thinking about this situation. There is an obvious need for a space like the Pine Street court given the usage. I live not far from Pine Street and it’s a rare evening where there isn’t someone there skateboarding. It’s true that there is an actual skateboard park nearby on the Dartmouth Common, but the Common and Pine Street fill different needs. The Common skateboard park is designed for an advanced skill level. It really doesn’t offer much for beginners. Pine Street, on the other hand, is filled with smaller home-made ramps. It has been serving a different audience.

It doesn’t feel right to me to just shut down skateboarding at the Pine Street court without giving it more thought. After talking it over with staff, HRM took down the sign that was posted Thursday asking that all gear be removed (the gear was removed over the weekend by the owner). Instead, the municipality is going to look at potentially changing the Pine Street court to officially become a skateboard and ball hockey space. Tennis would still be available in District 5 elsewhere including at the Common, Northbrook Park, Crichton Park, and Brownlow Park. If the court becomes officially a multi-use space, HRM will likely end up buying some skateboarding gear as staff have legitimate liability concerns about homemade stuff.

A sign will be going up at Pine Street this week to invite feedback on the idea (you can also email me). Staff and I would very much like to hear from folks who frequent the space before we make any changes.

Prince Albert Road

Prince Albert Road Redesign
As I noted in my capital budget update a few weeks ago, the Prince Albert Road redesign is a go. The project is out for tender now, which means that Prince Albert Road from Sinclair Street to the Superstore is very likely to be rebuilt this year as a two-lane street, plus left turn lanes at intersections. The unneeded former asphalt space will be mainly added onto the Lake Banook side of the road to create additional greenspace. HRM is not anticipating any traffic impacts because Prince Albert Road becomes a two-lane street at Sinclair and none of the side streets carry significant volumes. Whether Prince Albert narrows at Sinclair or earlier doesn’t make any difference, the traffic capacity is essentially the same.

What the redesigned Prince Albert Road will do is create a safer environment for pedestrians, particularly around Lakeview Point Road and Braemar. Pedestrians will have two lanes to cross instead of four at the Lakeview Point Road crosswalk and the crosswalk lights will be upgraded to a rapid flashing beacon. The slip lane at Braemar will go, eliminating a dangerous spot where pedestrians heading towards the superstore have to cross the lane with their backs to oncoming traffic. The slip lane means that oncoming traffic doesn’t have to slow down and not everyone signals because it doesn’t feel like much of a turn. It’s a treacherous spot that will be improved with a normal right-hand turn at Prince Albert-Braemar.

Part of Prince Albert’s former road space will become new bike lanes on both sides of the street. The lanes won’t be separated though, they’re being marked with paint. Prince Albert Road is a street that would definitely justify protected lanes so why is HRM going with just paint? The painted lanes are more about reserving space for future use. HRM is hoping to launch a project this summer to plan for connections across the Circ to Main Street and Waverley Road. We don’t know exactly what those bike connections will look like or what the Province will allow in terms of use of the Circ overpasses. HRM doesn’t want to lock itself into any particular configuration right now with more permanent infrastructure, but the municipality also wants to preserve options by not giving up too much space on Prince Albert Road. The painted lanes are placeholders. Cyclists who aren’t comfortable riding on Prince Albert Road will still be able to use the multi-use path along the lake.

The Prince Albert Road project also includes a unique first for HRM: our first alternative stormwater project. In the little triangle of greenspace created by Prince Albert Road, Sinclair Street, and Rixdale Drive, HRM will build a rain garden. Stormwater from nearby sections on Prince Albert Road and from Sinclair Street will be directed into the rain garden where the water will be absorbed into the ground and taken up by water hungry plants. The garden includes an overflow pipe for times when there might be too much water for the ground and plants to absorb (basically it’s an oversized version of your bathroom sink). The main benefit of the rain garden is that sediments, salt, and pollutants on this section of road will no longer flow directly into Lake Banook. This will be the very first rain garden that HRM has built to handle stormwater on our streets and, if it works as intended, it could be the first of many.

HRM doesn’t know exactly when work will get underway this year on Prince Albert Road, but the expectation is it will take up to two months to complete. The short-term construction disruption will be worth it though!

Photo: Tim Rissesco

Post Office Sale
The for sale sign is up. Canada Post is officially seeking bids from people interested in acquiring the old Downtown Dartmouth Post Office. I have had a few folks reach out to me expressing concern about the sale. I want to remind everyone that the Post Office became a municipally registered heritage building back in September. Council decided to preemptively register the building once it became clear that Canada Post was leaving to ensure that it’s protected and that there are clear expectations around preservation for the new owner.

Nova Scotia’s heritage legislation is far from perfect. It’s a definite flaw that demolition of a registered building can’t be prevented if the owner is willing to wait three years. It’s something that HRM has asked the Province to change, but the Province has, so far, been unwilling to do that. That major flaw aside, registration still generally works. Demolitions of old buildings over the last decade have all been to buildings that weren’t actually registered heritage properties. It has been a long, long time since an actual registered building was lost in HRM, although the three year clock is ticking on 64 Wentworth Street. I’m fairly optimistic that the Post Office is not in danger, especially since that registration was completed prior to the sale.

The sale of the Post Office is really more of an opportunity for Downtown Dartmouth. There is far more potential upside here than danger. The Post Office was designed for a different era and Canada Post really wasn’t using the building to its full potential. A single small Canada Post retail outlet filling an entire block of Queen Street! The heritage building also only occupies the eastern end of this large property, which means there is a great deal of potential space for complementary new development. This site could easily combine both old and new and redevelopment could help to create a more cohesive Downtown by filling in the gap between Ochterloney and Portland Street. I’m excited to see what’s next for this block and hope that whoever buys the property, has a good imagination and is willing to make the most of the old stone building that is such an important Downtown landmark.

Cancer Survivors Garden
Signs of spring in Downtown Dartmouth include the geese returning to Sullivan’s Pond, unboxing the palm tree, and swapping out the Pond’s fountainhead. This year, we can add a fourth sign of spring to the mix: the daffodils at the Cancer Survivors Garden on Alderney Drive. The Cancer Survivors Garden is located along Alderney Drive between King’s Wharf and the Ferry Terminal and was completed last year. The idea of a Survivors Garden is to provide a space that celebrates survivorship. There are gardens in cities all around the world. Dartmouth’s Survivors Garden includes nearly 7,000 daffodils and they’re just coming into the peak of the spring season. Check out the big splash of yellow over the next few weeks.

Renfrew Street Renumbering
Notices have gone out from HRM’s Civic Addressing staff to everyone on Renfrew Street. The Street is getting renumbered. The renumbering is happening because of a recent application to build a duplex on a vacant lot. The lot didn’t have a civic address and after reviewing the numbers on the street, HRM found that Renfrew’s numbering is quite a mess. There are 89 civic numbers for 102 units, meaning that there are are 13 addresses on Renfrew that are differentiated from their neighbours with a letter (example 52 and 52A). Using the same number for two different addresses isn’t ideal as it often leads to mail ending up in the wrong place. It’s something that HRM tries to avoid. Renfrew also has six lots (besides the one that triggered the review) that don’t have addresses, meaning that the problem will definitely get worse with time. It has reached the point where staff concluded that it’s time to renumber the street. To avoid any mix-ups with old mail, the new numbers will start at 100. HRM will cover the cost of redirecting mail for one year to allow residents time to make the necessary corrections.

Portland Street Brick Repairs
If you’ve followed my Council updates over the last few years, you might recall that every budget season I ask staff about the state of the sidewalk brickwork on Portland Street. Portland Street’s streetscaping was put in in 2008 and, unfortunately, there was no plan for ongoing maintenance. As a result, the bricks and planters have deteriorated with time. The bricks are particularly problematic. They’re uneven, weeds are growing up through them, and some have pieces missing. They look terrible and are a tripping hazard. HRM is developing an ongoing streetscaping program so that we don’t make the mistake of building something without a plan for maintenance again, but that still leaves a backlog of repair work on Portland Street.

I’m pleased to say that HRM has put some staff resources into addressing Portland’s broken bricks. Staff in HRM’s Road Operations section have previously fixed sections on lower Portland near Victoria Road and at the other end near Prince Street. They’ve done really excellent work. The fixed sections look better than new. The challenge is the Road Operations folks have a lot on their plate. There just aren’t enough of them to do everything. I’m told that this season they’re planning to tackle much more than the small sections that have been fixed previously (working on the Victoria – Dundas block now). It’s been a learning as they go type thing and after two seasons of practice they’re ready to tackle more. If plans for this year work out as intended, we could see some significant progress so be prepared for some minor disruptions along the sidewalks on Portland.

Penhorn Lake Clean-up Volunteers from Pre-COVID times

Great Nova Scotia Pick Me Up
It’s that time of year again, the Great Nova Scotia Pick Me Up starts April 1. The Nova Scotia Pick Me Up encourages people to get out and help take care of their community by picking up some of the litter that accumulates. It’s easy to get involved. Select an area in HRM where you would like to run a clean-up event and sign up online on the Pick Me Up’s website. Teams of individuals should register two weeks prior to their clean-up day. The Pick Me Up is organized by Nova Scotia Adopt-a-Highway and is supported by HRM. Litter kits (gloves, bags etc) are provided and garbage collection can be arranged. Check out the four District 5 clean ups already scheduled in this newsletters events section. Many hands make for light work. Let’s get out there and make sure Dartmouth looks its very best.

Banook Boardwalk Repairs
If you’re on the Prince Albert Road side of Banook over the next two weeks, you’re likely to encounter some construction delays. The section of boardwalk that has slowly been slipping into the lake by the gazebo is being rebuilt. A temporary extension of the multi-use trail has been created in the roadway to provide passage for pedestrians and cyclists. Work is expected to be complete by May 9.

Nova Scotia Power Work Downtown Dartmouth
There will be some street/sidewalk and likely power disruptions in Downtown Dartmouth over the next two months along Alderney Drive. Nova Scotia Power is moving ahead with the last phase of its work to replace the cables and transformers that are at the end of their life. Work this year will focus on Alderney Drvie from North Street to Prince Street. It’s a complicated task because all the equipment is underground. Work will typically take place 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. NSP will aim to notify customers of any planned outages 24-48 hours in advance with an automated phone message.

Public Consultation

2021 Budget Deliberations
Council is coming into the home stretch on budget deliberations. We’ve now heard from all HRM departments and gathered up a list of extra items for further consideration. Most of the extras on the Budget Adjustment List are additional services or projects, but there are a few possible cuts as well for Council to consider. You can review the Budget Adjustment List here.

At each budget meeting, there is an opportunity for members of the public to address Council on any budget related item. Since virtually everything HRM does has some sort of budget implication, it’s a pretty open-ended opportunity to speak to Regional Council about whatever you feel is important. The schedule for the remaining budget days is listed below:

  • Wednesday, April 21
    Budget Adjustment List (aka parking lot)
  • Wednesday, May 5
    Final budget review

You can speak to any subject you want at any meeting. Meetings typically start at 9:30 am and public participation takes place early in the meeting. Since Council is meeting virtually, you have to register in advance to speak. Please contact the Clerk’s Office at 902-490-4210 or by email at clerks@halifax.ca no later than 4:30 pm the day before.

Portland Street Corridor
HRM is carrying out a study of Portland Street and Cole Harbour Road. The Portland corridor is a busy transit route connecting suburban Dartmouth to Downtown. The street is identified for potential transit priority measures (lanes, queue jumps etc) in the Integrated Mobility Plan and is one of HRM’s planned rapid transit routes. The study will look at how mobility on this important transportation corridor, particularly for transit, can be improved. The virtual kickoff meeting for the project took place on April 7. You can view the video of the meeting and answer the project survey on the Shape Your City website here. Staff are currently working on design options for the corridor, which will be the focus of the next round of public engagement later this spring.

Council Updates

To keep you informed about what is going on at Council, I’m writing a regular blog after each meeting. Each of my entries is about what I saw as noteworthy from a District 5 perspective and my views on the issues. We might not always agree, but I think it’s important to provide a record of how I voted and why.

Council Update April 6
The Planning and Development department’s budget, which includes lakes and climate change, plus a regular Council meeting where we initiated a request to look at HRM’s shared-policing model, and changed/clarified the process for appointing HRM’s Traffic Authority. Read about it here.

Council Update March 31
The Parks and Recreation budget presentation. Planning for the next phase of daylighting the Sawmill River, working towards a One HRM Membership for facilities, and some added items for the budget adjustment list. Read about it here.

Events

There are a number of neighbourhood clean ups going on in District 5 over the next two week. Check them out below and consider volunteering your time if you’re able.

Pleasant Woodside Neighbourhood Clean Up
Saturday, April 24, 1:00 – 4:00 pm

North Woodside Community Centre
Have an hour or two to spare on Sunday, and want to make your neighbourhooed a better place? Come join the Pleasant Woodside Association for their neighbourhood clean up. Meet at the North Woodside Community Centre to pick up you area assignment, garbage and recycling bags, and gloves… although if you have a good set of gardening gloves, feel free to bring those instead. A member of the Association will be in the Community Centre parking lot all afternoon to coordinate the clean up effort. For more information and to sign up, email the association at pleasantwoodside@gmail.com

Harbourview Clean Up
Sunday, April 25, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Furness Park

Join your neighbours in Harbourview on their clean up. Meet at Furness Park to clean up the Fairbanks/Shore Road area. For more information, contact the Harbourview Resident’s Association at harbourviewresidentassociation@gmail.com

Penhorn Lake Area Trails Association Clean Up
Sunday, April 25, 10:00 am
Penhorn Beach
Park
The Penhorn Lake Area Trails Association is holding their annual clean up Sunday, April 25. I know many have discovered the little gem that is Penhorn Lake over the last few years. This is your chance to make sure that it is nice and tidy for the coming summer swim season. Meet at the Beach to circle the Lake and grab all the accumulated litter. Gloves and bags provided. Free PLATA membership for anyone who volunteers. Everyone welcome.

Oathill Lake Association Clean Up
Saturday, May 1, 9:00 – 10:00 am
Oathill Lake Park (by the outfall)

Come join the Oathill Lake Association on their yearly clean up. Garbage has become scarce pickings thanks to their efforts, but repetition is key to making sure this great Dartmouth park looks its best. The Association will provide bags, but this is a bring your own gloves event. For more information, contact Iain imac@ns.sympatico.ca

5 Comments

  1. turning the tennis court at pine street park into a multi-purpose venue is a GREAT idea. i live directly across the street, where i’ve been observing the activity on the court for years, and way too much fun is had out there to limit it to just a tennis court.

  2. It sounds like the multi purpose use plan for Pine Street is great for the neighborhood!

  3. Really wanted to give my respect and say thank you to Sam for quickly getting back to us and taking the time to actually listen and learn from
    those who reached out about keeping Pine a place to skate and proving that there really are people out there that truly care and respect their community.

    Thanks Sam,
    Really looking forward to skating Pine in the future.

  4. Having lived on Pine Street since 1992, we have noted that tennis use on the Pine Street court has declined the last couple of summers. This is not surprising since HRM has allowed the skateboarders to take down the nets and let them be on the ground. Tennis players have shown up at the court only to turn away when they see that the court is unusable. Two weeks ago the nets were put up, and overnight the nets were taken down. Despite repeated calls to put the nets back up, the nets stayed down. Reading in Sam’s update “It doesn’t feel right to me to just shut down skateboarding at the Pine Street court without giving it more thought. After talking it over with staff, HRM took down the sign that was posted Thursday asking that all gear be removed (the gear was removed over the weekend by the owner).” It is a bizarre rationale that tennis is not supported on a tennis court, but skateboarding is supported on a tennis court. Over the winter we have tolerated the banging when the skate boards hit the wooden ramps, because we were looking forward to the nice weather when we could open our windows and not have to endure the constant noise once the space could again be a functional tennis court. It is frustrating that HRM would support a skate park so close to residences, and that there isn’t a better place for skateboarding.

  5. Hi, Sam
    I have lived across the street form the Pine St. Park for nearly 30 years. I should add that I am neither a tennis player nor a skateboarder. When you say that the tennis court does not now get used for tennis much, I would agree. However this is because it has not been usable for tennis for the last number of years because the net is always down and the skateboard paraphenalia makes it unsafe for tennis. In the past the court has been used for ball hockey in the winter when the net is taken down and for many years there was a regular gang there every Sunday. This no longer happens, I suspect for the same reason – the skate board papraphenalia makes it impossible/unsafe to use for that purpose. There is a purpose-built skate board park a few blocks away and I don’t understand why the skateboarders don’t go there. There are few free places for people to play tennis in the downtown area and I believe thought needs to be given before this one is removed. I appreciate the comment from the skateboarder but would ask that they show respect to the people who live in the neighborhood by not playing loud music while using the park and by properly disposing of their litter. I look forward to further discussion on this matter.

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