Downtown Dartmouth Combined Infrastructure Project: If you attended the Downtown Dartmouth Plan Update in October, you might have seen the panel on the Downtown Dartmouth Combined Infrastructure Project. Maybe you even talked to Shannon O’Connell, the project leader. The panel was the first public presentation of what HRM has been working on regarding Dartmouth Cove and Phase 2 of daylighting the Sawmill River. I’m very pleased to be able to now talk about the the work that’s underway. This potentially transformative project will shape Downtown Dartmouth for generations and is the result of several major items coming together all at once around Alderney Drive including:
- Phase 2 of the Sawmill River project,
- Redevelopment of Dartmouth Cove
- Canal Greenway Park
- Trans Canada Trail connection between the Harbour Trail and Sullivan’s Pond
- Need for major repairs of Portland/Alderney/Prince Albert (PAPA) intersection
My main priorities are to ensure as much of the Sawmill River as possible reaches the surface, that Dartmouth Cove is joined into the rest of Downtown, and that the Harbour Trail is connected to Sullivan’s Pond. Redesigning Alderney Drive is key to achieving all of these objectives. Alderney Drive is an overbuilt suburban style parkway in the middle of Downtown. It’s the product of post-War planning ideology that envisioned everyone getting around in a car on multi-lane roads. Alderney’s lack of a sidewalk from Portland Street down to King’s Wharf very much symbolizes the priorities of the urban planning in the decades after World War II.
The good news is that, today, Alderney Drive’s expanse of asphalt provides us with the opportunity to reprioritize how we use public space in Downtown Dartmouth. The dominant traffic movement on Alderney is to and from Portland Street. There is some through traffic, but most people turn at Marine House. Portland is a two-lane street, while Alderney is four, which means that the effective traffic capacity of the corridor is basically two-lanes. All we’re really deciding is where the bottleneck is going to be because Portland will never be four lanes up to Five Corners.
The very preliminary concept plan above that HRM is developing would achieve all the major objectives, from River to trail. A new bridge would be constructed across the Sawmill River to extend Dundas Street right into the heart of Dartmouth Cove. This would be the main link between Downtown and the Cove and is key for integrating the two. Above the new Alderney/Dundas intersection, Alderney would slim to just two lanes to create space for daylighting the Sawmill River and building the Trans Canada Trail. Beyond Alderney Drive, on the other side of Portland Street, Prince Albert Road would shift towards St. Jame’s Church, freeing up space for the River and Trail bringing both right up to the Canal Greenway and Sullivan’s Pond.
If HRM moves forward with the project, the end result will be the Sawmill River and trail reaching all the way up to Sullivan’s Pond, and Dartmouth Cove linked into the rest of Downtown. All we have to give up to make that possible is some underused asphalt on Alderney Drive. It’s an exciting plan that has the potential to be the most influential municipal investment in Downtown Dartmouth since the Alderney Gate complex was built more than 20 years ago. Expect to hear more about this project as plans are refined.
Ochterloney/Wentworth Pilot Project: In Downtown Dartmouth, I have found that there are three crosswalks that are a disproportionate source of complaints for both pedestrians and motorists: the crossings on Ochterloney at King, Wentworth and Victoria. Back in the summer, I brought senior staff on a walking tour of Ochterloney to take a look at each intersection to see what could be improved. Staff have been contemplating options and I’m happy to share that they’re now ready to launch a pilot project at the intersection of Wentworth.
Next week, jersey barriers will be installed at the corner of Wentworth to test out an extended curb (bump out). Bump outs tend to make intersections safer by reducing vehicle speeds, improving visibility, and reducing the distance that pedestrians have to cross. Jersey barriers are being used because they can withstand snow plows, but it’s still possible that there could be a second prettier phase of the pilot in the spring using bollards or planters. It’s important to note that this is a pilot project and, if the barriers cause problems, they can be easily removed. That’s the beauty of trying something out before investing in actual concrete. It allows the municipality to experiment and adjust based on real-world feedback. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the project leader, Elora Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alderney Pedway Renovation: If you’ve been through Alderney Gate lately, you’ve probably noticed the work going on in the Pedway. The Pedway has been renovated to be more of a gathering space and less of a showpiece of the 1980s interior decor. The new design was produced by a local architectural firm, Abbot and Brown, and features various configurations of seating, charging stations, new lighting, and new flooring. The space is being well-received by the community. Each time I have been through over the last three weeks, there has always been a mix of people using the space for a variety of activities. It even makes for a good on the go Councillor’s office!
At this point, work is almost complete and will, hopefully, soon include a booster to extend the library’s free wifi signal. Updated wayfinding and the return of the mermaid statue to someplace in Alderney are also outstanding. If all goes according to plan, the next phase of modernizing Alderney Gate will focus on the main lobby where there are exciting possibilities to rethink how the library interacts with the rest of the building. The timing of additional work in Alderney is dependent on future budgets, but the transformation of the Pedway certainly suggests there are possibilities to rethink how the building works.
Moir Garden Steps: Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. I was very pleased to arrange for work on the stairs at the Moir Garden in Sullivan’s Pond. The Moir Garden was created by Audrey and Lorne Moir and is currently tended to by Audrey and the Dartmouth Horticultural Society. Their volunteer work keeps this section of the Pond looking beautiful for everyone to enjoy. A consistent complaint that the Horticultural Society gets is the Garden’s steps are treacherous, particularly for anyone who isn’t solid on their feet. HRM is addressing this issue by decking over each step to create a level surface, and by installing a handrail. Hopefully this will mean more people will be able to enjoy Audrey and Lorne’s beautiful creation.
Canal Greenway Park: I’m pleased to see work on the Canal Greenway Park on Prince Albert Road is wrapping up. The recreation of the Marine Railway and work to remove the excess fill, sod the land, and stretch the pathway down to Irishtown Road is now basically complete. The site has been a construction project for so many years, it’s really nice to have a park again. One item that still remains is how to integrate the replica boat cradle into the site. The plan for the Canal Greenway has changed several times over the years and the cradle currently completely blocks the path along the Sawmill River in the upper end of the Greenway. HRM will likely reroute the path around the Cradle to address this once we know where the paths of desire are (where the mud ruts form from walking feet).
While work is wrapping up for now, the lower half of the Canal Greenway near Irishtown Road is definitely not finished. The next period of major work is tentatively planned for 2021 when Phase 2 of the Sawmill River daylighting project gets underway. We don’t know right now what Phase 2 of the Sawmill River Project will look like in the Canal Greenway. There is a lot of potential to adopt a more naturalized approach to daylighting in lower Greenway because it’s the one spot along the Sawmill River’s route where there is a wide area of publicly-owned land. I’m keen to see if some sort of pond or water feature can be incorporated in this space to add additional life to the park. There are a lot of potential challenges though including the contaminated land, the elevation change needed to get the Sawmill River to the Harbour, and the historical remains of the Canal and Starr Plant. I’m keen to explore the possibilities over the next few years as plans for Phase 2 are developed. Expect to hear more about Phase 2 of the Sawmill River once HRM finalizes the roadway design for Prince Albert/Portland/Alderney as part of the Downtown Dartmouth Combined Infrastructure Project.
Sullivans Pond Fountain: You may have noticed that the Sullivan’s Pond Fountain isn’t spraying water high into the air these days. The question was posed to me on twitter (and by my own kids) why the fountain’s spray varies over the year so I thought I would share the answer. The fountain actually has two fountain heads, one that distinctively sprays high into the air, and one that bubbles water closer to the Pond’s surface. The spray fountain head is used during the warm months and the bubbler during the winter season. The reason that HRM switches the fountain head is the spray head is vulnerable to freezing. If the spray head freezes, it would break. The bubbler, on the other hand keeps water close to the Pond’s surface and is fine to use in cold conditions, allowing the Sullivan’s Pond Fountain to run all year round. The seasonal swap of fountain heads is just part of the rhythm of the Park.
Sportsplex Delay: If you missed the news release back in early October, the plan to start opening the Sportsplex in December has been pushed back. The delay is primarily due to the weeks of extreme humidity we had this summer. The humidity prevented the contractor from laying the hardwood floors in the gym, studios, and courts. Based on the updated construction plan, most of the work will be done by the end of December, which means that January will be devoted to the final details of training staff and getting the facility read for the public. Access to the arena and track will not be affected by the delay and are both open again for the season. I know delays are always frustrating, but I’m confident that the project will prove to be well worth it in the end. I would sooner finish a bit later than planned rather than open on time and have all the floors warp in the first year because they were laid in poor conditions.
Truefaux Films Community Partnership: I had the pleasure of attending the screening of 6 Primrose at Alderney last week. The film focuses on the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre and was created by John Hillis and Hannah Minzloff of Dartmouth’s Truefaux Films. The film is entirely a labour of love and they did a marvelous job. Each year, Truefaux joins with a non-profit community group to provide pro-bono work. It’s the rough equivalent of $5,000 and Trudefaux is currently accepting applications for 2019. The partnership can take many forms: one major promo piece, building collateral for future use, multiple small shorts, etc. The deadline for interested community groups is Nov 30. Contact email@example.com or 902-223-9479 for more information.
Participatory Budgeting: If you missed it, District 5’s second participatory budget was completed on November 6. $50,000 in District 5 funds were awarded to various community groups. Thanks to everyone who came out to vote, and to the HRM staff volunteers from the Council support office who made everything run smoothly. For complete details on how the money was distributed, read about it here.
Halifax Transit has launched an online hub to collect ongoing feedback from the public. The transit specific page will feature regular surveys and other feedback mechanisms. Registered users will get a prompt when new opportunities to provide feedback are made available and survey results will be published online. To participate in Talk Transit, visit the Shape Your City page here. A survey on Halifax Transit’s fare structure is currently live.
To keep you better 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 November 13
A new chapter for the old Spring Garden Branch Library, traffic calming, and Access-A-Bus changes. Read about it here
Council Update October 30
My take on the stadium proposal and Floating Yellow Heart problems in Little Albro Lake. Read about it here
Dartmouth Players “Play On!”
Thursday – Sunday, Nov 8 – 24, 8:00 pm except 2:00 pm on Sundays
33 Crichton Avenue
The hilarious story of a theatre group trying desperately to put on a play in spite of maddening interference from a haughty author who keeps revising the script. Act I is a rehearsal of the dreadful show, Act II is the near disastrous dress rehearsal, and the final act is the actual performance, in which anything that can go wrong, does. When the author decides to give a speech on the state of the modern theatre during the curtain calls, the audience is treated to a madcap climax and a thoroughly hilarious romp. Even the sound effects reap their share of laughter! For ticket information visit the Player’s website here.
Optimal Aging Series
Three dates left: Nov 16, 23 & 30 – 2:00 pm
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre, 45 Ochterloney
Hosted by the Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre and the Dartmouth Community Health Board, this series allows participants to learn something new about Brain Challenge, Mental Health, Physical Activity, Positive Thinking, and Social Activity. Contact the Centre for more information: 902-465-5578
COVE – Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship – Public Open House
Saturday, Nov 17, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
27 Parker Street
COVE is opening its doors to the public! Meet the tenants, tour the facility, and enjoy cake and refreshments in Colin MacLean Hall. There will be fun for the whole family, with Back to the Sea Society and their touch tank, and Canadian Sea Turtle Network.
Afternoon Tea at Evergreen
Saturday, Nov 17, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Dartmouth Heritage Museum, 26 Newcastle Street
If you missed out on attending Afternoon Tea at Evergreen during the summer, you’re in luck! Join the Dartmouth Heritage Museum for fresh scones, shortbread cookies and, of course, piping hot tea. Since November has become associated with the sporting of moustaches, they’ve decided to showcase moustache cups, like the one below, from the Collection during the event!
Tickets are $12.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. They can be purchased online here or spots can be reserved by calling (902)464-2300. Space is limited so reservations are recommended.
I Light Halifax
Friday, Nov 23, 6:15 pm
Join the Halifax Cycling Coalition for their winter ride to raise funds to provide bike lights. The ride gets underway at 7:00 and ends in the cyclesmith parking lot on Agricloa Street. $20 registration includes group ride, donation to the I Light HFX campaign, snacks, and entry and one beverage at the after party. For more information visit the Coalition’s page here.
Friday, Nov. 30 – 4pm to 9 pm
Saturday, Dec. 1 – Farmers Market 8am to 1pm & Christkindlmarket 2pm to 9pm
Sunday, Dec. 2 – 11am to 4pm
Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney Street
Come experience a traditonal German market at Alderney Landing. Christkindlmarket returns for the weekend of Dec 1. There is lots going on from crafts to santa. Free carousel and train rides, Maritime Marionette’s “Nativity Story”, the singing Christmas Tree, visits with Santa. Lots of holiday food including pretzels, gingerbread, sausages, chocolates, cider, eggnog, hot chocolate and mulled wine. You can even roast S’mores over a toasty fire. For a complete schedule of events and times checkout Alderney’s webpage here.
2018 Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting
Saturday, Dec 1, 4:30 PM – 6:15 PM
Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney Street
Come to the Alderney Landing Events Plaza for free family fun including the lighting of the Dartmouth Christmas tree, visit with Santa, ride the Kiwanis Santa Claus Train, ride the Carousel, and take in some Christmas tunes courtesy of Mike Cowie & friends. Most of all, enjoy the stunning fireworks over the Harbour! For more information, checkout the event page here.
Christmas Full of Caring
Sunday, Dec 2, 4:00 pm
Double Tree, 101 Wyse Road
Join the Feeding Others of Dartmouth (FOOD) Society for their annual dinner and auction. Proceeds from this once a year fundraiser support Margaret’s House in Downtown Dartmouth. Tickets are $55. For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Margaret’s House page here.
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre Choir Christmas Concert
Saturday, Dec 8, 2:00 pm
Enjoy Christmas music at the Dartmouth Senior’s Service Centre. Tickets are $6 at the door.