Update: Open Street Sundays will not return to Halifax this weekend

It's the first time since COVID's arrival that some downtown streets will switch from car-focused to pedestrian-celebrating.

Update: Due to a bad weather forecast, the Open Street event has been cancelled for this Sunday. A press release from the event’s organizing committee announced the decision Friday afternoon. “We’ve all agreed that cancelling the event now, based on the current weather forecast for Sunday, is the most responsible thing to do for everyone involved, but let it be known we are heartbroken,” organizer Kieran Stepan says in the announcement.

“We just know that the longer we wait to cancel, the more of a cost we incur. And this is money we can recirculate into many other events, just like this one.”

The Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s Paul MacKinnon also speaks via the release to reiterate the message that the late cancellation was not a move taken lightly. “The thinking behind open streets is ‘community and having fun’, but a lot of the programming we’d planned is just not very conducive to inclement weather, it just defeats the purpose,” MacKinnon says. “As a business improvement district, we’re responsible to our businesses. Every decision we make is based around the question ‘does this make sense for all our stakeholders?’ And in this case, there’s more risk than not in moving forward with the event.”

The release doesn’t say anything about a future date for Open Street Sundays.

From noon to 4pm on Sunday, September 18, a host of central Halifax streets will switch to pedestrian-only. In the pre-COVID era, Open Street Sundays (as these events are known) were a fun subversion, a way to create safer spaces for pedestrians to engage with where they live as busy strips of asphalt become activated in a new way. The project's return this weekend will close off Spring Garden Road (between South Park Street and Queen Street) to cars, along with the swath of Agricola Street between Almon and Cunard Streets. Argyle Street between Blowers and Prince Streets will also be vehicle free for the four-hour window.

“Open Streets are about community, allowing folks to enjoy the city without the interference of traffic or crowded sidewalks,” says Kieran Stepan, founder and partner of OSO planning + design (which is presenting the event) in a press release. “By allowing people to take back their streets, they are returned to public space for social gathering, local commerce, art, culture and active transport. That is the true form and purpose of streets.”

click to enlarge Update: Open Street Sundays will not return to Halifax this weekend
A provided map showing which swaths of street will be shut to cars this Sunday.

Storefronts often spill onto the sidewalk during Open Street Sundays while free performances and activities abound. Live drumming and a street-wide market will be on offer on Agricola on Sunday while a chalk artist's work will fill Grafton Park. Over on Spring Garden Road, a host of live performances–including by nearby biz inesS Circus–will take place.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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