Removal of temporary sidewalk in Halifax draws social media backlash

A decision to remove a temporary sidewalk on Quinpool Road in Halifax has been met with ire on Twitter.

In a tweet on Friday, Halifax Regional Municipality said the move was in “response to feedback from Quinpool Road merchants and to address the changing needs of businesses in the area.”

Temporary sidewalks between Quingate Place and Monastery Lane were put there in late May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It created more space for pedestrians to maintain proper physical distance.

But it meant fewer spaces for parking and loading.

Karla Nicholson, executive director of the Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association, said the municipality was represented at an association board meeting on Wednesday.

During the meeting, the request was made by the association to remove the barriers in front of the Superstore so businesses on the other side of the street would have more parking.

“It’s the small businesses on the south side that need that space,” Nicholson said. “And really, the Superstore, nobody is even going in those doors, all these people have to go in on the other side.” 

Nicholson said some people were upset that parking was taken away on the north side because “it was hard to do pickup and delivery in that area.”

With the barriers gone, Nicholson said businesses on the south side looking to expand patios will have more space now.

This is what the north side of Quinpool Road looked like until recently. A barrier had been installed to widen the sidewalks so people could keep better physical distance. (@hfxgov/Twitter)

Businesses on the south side of Quinpool Road will be able to expand patios. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Those in support of the wider sidewalks say it’s still needed because of the pandemic. A few noted there is a parking lot behind the Superstore.

“This is a bad move. That expanded sidewalk didn’t affect any of those businesses. There’s a huge parking lot on the other side of the building, they could lose a couple street parking spots,” wrote Matt Cooper, under the Twitter handle @mcooper_AtmSci.

Other people said the municipality should have done more to consult residents.

“This goes against the needs of most residents and businesses. Very strange that someone got to decide this unilaterally without input from electeds,” wrote Jon Pye, under the Twitter handle @j_pye.

Nicholson said the criticism that the municipality did this without proper consultation is unfair.

“The city has done a lot of work in dedicating specific streets in the city, specifically around Quinpool Road, to slow streets, encouraging people to walk and to bike,” she said.

“And the city reacted very quickly to COVID to put the barriers up at the Superstore. And they were only removed at the request of the business association.”