Downtown Stroll

Today the #1 was full and my gentlemanly insistence of ladies first resulted in the bus driving away without me on it.

Undaunted, figuring its only –1 today, I walked down Spring Garden and then Barrington, looking up and around to think more about the future of downtown.

I guess the first impression was that we have a real small town complex.  Downtown is Barrington? What about Spring Garden Road, what about Argyle?  I mean, is downtown really just four stop lights long?

I think the urban core of Halifax peninsula could be defined as starting at North Street, ending at South Street, and living between the harbour and the Commons/Hill/South Park Street.

Spring Garden looks good.  Lots of traffic.  The lack of support for this area is demonstrated by the lack of incrimental improvements to the area.  Spring Garden now includes Queen, Armoury, Clyde, and Brenton, amoung others.  Almost no work has been done to improve the streets here and make htem more pedestrian friendly since they planted some trees on Spring Garden in 1994.

I cut across the library.  I hope something good happens on this site when the new library is built.  I have often felt a Chapters downtown would add a whole type of shopper (my Mom and Dad for two) that just don’t shop downtown.

I moved back to Halifax in 1990 and Scotia Square was still a going concern, still had the Woolco.  It is crazy to think how hard it is to buy a knife and fork or an inexpensive pair of mens socks in downtown with it gone.  Mostly I think about how to support independent stores, but a couple of key chains outlets won’t hurt either.

I then walked down Barrington, from Blowers to George.  Interesting to note that right now, the only empty spots are the Sam’s block, which is about to be redeveloped, and the Roy area, always a problem.  The NFB continue to mock city planners and politicians.

The only other problem areas are owned by government.  The ill advised removal of storefronts where the Craft centre used to be, the parking lot at Barrington and George.  The Khyber.  What is the city and province going to do to revitalize those properties?

  • John Wesley

    Isn’t it interesting to think and talk in specifics. Any government, if they choose, could take this on one building at a time and make it nice. But faulty generalization is a classic fallacy present in almost every political discourse. In this case trying to develop a Supreme Guideline has taken millions of dollars, years of work and nearly deafened the public to the issue. It would have been so easy to just have taken a fraction of the money, effort and time and just fixed things up nice. Everyone would have appreciated it – especially the sprawl malls whose development the downtown tax base underwrites.

  • John Wesley

    Isn’t it interesting to think and talk in specifics. Any government, if they choose, could take this on one building at a time and make it nice. But faulty generalization is a classic fallacy present in almost every political discourse. In this case trying to develop a Supreme Guideline has taken millions of dollars, years of work and nearly deafened the public to the issue. It would have been so easy to just have taken a fraction of the money, effort and time and just fixed things up nice. Everyone would have appreciated it – especially the sprawl malls whose development the downtown tax base underwrites.

  • Good post… interesting suggestions.

    I agree that we need a more macro-view of what we think of as the Downtown Core… and I don’t think we should be shy about including Downtown Dartmouth in this vision of a fabulous multi-use, beating heart of the city.

    I would oppose a downtown Chapters. There are 6 locally owned used bookstores downtown, plus Book Mark, plus Woozles, Venus Envy, Little Mysteries and the Christian Bookstore. Installing a Chapters would pretty much kill 11 small businesses.

    I would like to see a community communication/knowledge centre go up at the old library space (or the old infirmary location). A state of the art C@P site, a video-conferencing room, meeting spaces, a community theatre… something that the community can use at accessible and affordable pricing. Of course there should be a library in that building, and perhaps some community classrooms.

    How much are we spending on a new Convention Centre which will be inaccessible to community groups, students and small/independent businesses in need of such a venue.

    Anyway… let’s keep talking about it… there is such potential, we must be careful not to blow it.

  • Good post… interesting suggestions.

    I agree that we need a more macro-view of what we think of as the Downtown Core… and I don’t think we should be shy about including Downtown Dartmouth in this vision of a fabulous multi-use, beating heart of the city.

    I would oppose a downtown Chapters. There are 6 locally owned used bookstores downtown, plus Book Mark, plus Woozles, Venus Envy, Little Mysteries and the Christian Bookstore. Installing a Chapters would pretty much kill 11 small businesses.

    I would like to see a community communication/knowledge centre go up at the old library space (or the old infirmary location). A state of the art C@P site, a video-conferencing room, meeting spaces, a community theatre… something that the community can use at accessible and affordable pricing. Of course there should be a library in that building, and perhaps some community classrooms.

    How much are we spending on a new Convention Centre which will be inaccessible to community groups, students and small/independent businesses in need of such a venue.

    Anyway… let’s keep talking about it… there is such potential, we must be careful not to blow it.

  • I don’t disagree with most of your ideas, and I think Dartmouth is especially hard done by right now, basically anywhere that generates real revenue is getting screwed by the areas farther out. I note though that Chapters went into downtown Montreal and local booksellers did not feel a huge difference, as it largely tracks a different kind of shopper than goes to the Bookmark (a chain BTW) or Woozles. The booksellers loose some customers, gain others. Chapters, after all, is where you go to buy the third in a trilogy, but rarely the first or second book.

  • I don’t disagree with most of your ideas, and I think Dartmouth is especially hard done by right now, basically anywhere that generates real revenue is getting screwed by the areas farther out. I note though that Chapters went into downtown Montreal and local booksellers did not feel a huge difference, as it largely tracks a different kind of shopper than goes to the Bookmark (a chain BTW) or Woozles. The booksellers loose some customers, gain others. Chapters, after all, is where you go to buy the third in a trilogy, but rarely the first or second book.

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