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Coming to Halifax: Parking fees and (some) wider sidewalks 

click to enlarge The Monday sun shines on CAO Jacques Dubé and Mayor Mike Savage - VIA YOUTUBE
  • The Monday sun shines on CAO Jacques Dubé and Mayor Mike Savage
  • VIA Youtube
Halifax's chief financial officer Jacques Dubé and mayor Mike Savage held a press conference today to give a lil' update on HRM's life in the time of coronavirus plans.

The duo announced the first phase of the mobility response streets and spaces plan. This means wider sidewalks are coming to Quinpool Road between Quingate Place and Monastery Lane and to Spring Garden Road between South Park Street and Queen Street by the end of this week. Dubé said the mobility improvements will be set up for all Haligonians, including those requiring accessibility accommodations.

The municipality also announced on Friday that car owners will have to pay for parking again come June 1—and new, 15-minute parking spots will be added around the city to help with increased traffic for takeout outside of restaurants.

HRM followed the lead of municipalities across the country in offering up free parking when the novel coronavirus first reared its head in Canada. In its original recast budget, HRM forecasted a $750,000 loss from parking revenue and a further $600,000 loss from meter fine revenue. Bringing fines back June 1 will get some of that money flowing back into the municipality to go towards other programs councillors are pushing to keep amid budget cuts.

Dubé said there will be short, medium and long term temporary adjustments to the transportation network as part of the mobility plan, adding later that at this time there are no specific changes for cycling mobility that he can comment on but it's something HRM is "looking at very seriously." 

HRM is also looking at getting transit fares back up and running but has to install safeguards for drivers before that happens. Dubé's estimate is July for that to be set up and in place.

Tomorrow, the committee of the whole (council + mayor savage + more opportunities for councillors to speak) will meet in the morning to discuss the recast budget with their parking lot wish list and re-mathed plans to pay for things, which Dubé says should be ready for approval come June 9.

Tomorrow afternoon, the councillors and mayor Savage will get back on the line for another virtual regional council meeting. On the agenda is a motion to remove the fees for patios and sidewalk cafes for if and when the province moves to allow restaurants to open their doors again. The city estimates a revenue loss of about $40,000 for waiving the fees, though it's not certain if all restaurants who previously opened patios would be doing so, because of COVID-19.

Mayor Savage says HRM be looking at all possibilities to help restaurants increase their square footage in order to offset the revenue loss from physical distancing protocol, but that whatever happens can't impose upon people with accessibility needs.

To tune in to tomorrow's virtual budget meeting, click here. And to tune in to the regional council meeting, click here.

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