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Best Street 

Spring Garden Road

click to enlarge Spring Garden Road is one of Canada's great streets.
  • Spring Garden Road is one of Canada's great streets.

Editor's note: With its latest Best Street win in 2007, Spring Garden Road was elevated to the Best of Halifax Hall of Fame.

Did you know Spring Garden is more than simply the most-lauded shopping street in our city? It's also a designated "area." According to the Spring Garden Business Association, the area stretches from Clyde to Sackville, South Park to Queen and staggers over to Brunswick, encompassing all the businesses, services and side streets within.

But Spring Garden Road itself is the artery. Its health defines the success of the city and it looks pretty healthy right now: People and businesses keep on coming.

"It's the wide range of offerings," says Bernard Smith, manager of the Spring Garden Area Business Association. "For an interesting combination of reasons, people want to be there and there's a much better sense of co-operation between the merchants than there was years back.

"People feel comfortable on Spring Garden Road, despite the panhandling situation, which has been an aggravation, which I think is improving. We've worked at it in a feeling, positive sort of way."

All you need to do is look through this year's readers' poll to see the impact the businesses on Spring Garden have had on Haligonians.

"We've got young people, students, yuppies, successful business people and the moneyed south end and it all seems to work," says Smith. Despite the competition of the big-box stores in the suburbs, the street is staying vital, though it takes some planning and acumen to maintain it. "It's now our deliberate strategy to join with Barrington Street and try to make downtown even a better place than it currently is."

Making it better includes the inevitability that the parking lots off Clyde will be developed as commercial-residential properties, something that will certainly change things. "We're trying to negotiate with the city that whatever goes there doesn't prejudice what we've gained. We probably have to have underground parking and we know some of our customers don't like it. So we have to make it so good, so well lighted and so safeā€”the very best. We have to convince the city that's the minimum we will accept. Then we'll look for the retail to come in."

Among other businesses, Smith expects to see a "high-end" hardware store to come into the area, to join the host of places which have been "strategically identified" to be necessary for Spring Garden: "Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables essential and we got Pete's Frootique. We certainly went out looking for more children's-related stuff, so adding to Woozles we got Ragamuffin Kids. All the time we get new arrivals, though we're frankly discouraging too much more fast food.

"We know we have a student component but we don't want to overwhelm the place...we want to offer a complete spectrum of quality merchandise. We want people to think of it not as a chore, but as a pleasure to shop here."

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