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  #201  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 6:48 AM
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Originally Posted by IanWatson View Post
There's too much push to bring "science" to city building*. There's very little that's scientific about it. But we live in a society where you "can't possibly be right unless you have the peer-reviewed studies to back it up" (never mind that there's no universal "right"). All that results in is an industry of trying to create a science that can't possibly exist.
The pendulum has swung back and forth. In the 1950's and 60's there was a lot of pseudo-scientific planning and a focus on traffic engineering. These days in a lot of cases I think we are to the point where there's not enough focus on some simple engineering type goals like getting people from A to B as quickly as possible, and a lot of municipal infrastructure development is consequently out in the weeds.

As a prime example of this, I've heard several city planners in Vancouver and Seattle downplay the importance of commute times. A while ago I was listening to one talk about the Alaska Way Viaduct demolition and he cavalierly said that traffic didn't worsen much because travel times didn't increase by 20-30 minutes or more, and he said that Seattleites were coping by commuting earlier or later, like at 6 am instead of 7 am. He talked about how clearing out the viaduct left more space for people instead of cars.

His attitude should have instead been that even a 5 minute slowdown each way when commuting is a big deal, and having to get up for work 30 minutes earlier in the day is a big deal too. Creating a nicer neighbourhood where the viaduct is now is also important but his weighting seemed very wrong. The Alaska Way Viaduct carried 91,000 vehicles per day.

Part of the disconnect is that there are many different demographics to be served by urban planning. The urbanite condo class tends to get the most attention these days, and planners consider that style of project the sexiest. A lot of the rhetoric about building places that people want to live in elides the fact that only a lucky few will get to live in those places or commute to them in a reasonable amount of time.

I'm not sure that Halifax has swung too far in this direction but some North American cities certainly have. As a result they have many great looking neighbourhoods for 5% of their population while 30% of people struggle to find a place to live and 60% suffer from bad commutes.
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  #202  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 11:14 AM
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I'm not sure that Halifax has swung too far in this direction but some North American cities certainly have. As a result they have many great looking neighbourhoods for 5% of their population while 30% of people struggle to find a place to live and 60% suffer from bad commutes.
Certainly many of the recent changes seem to be heading in exactly this direction. Look at the things that some Council members like Mason have championed - making Argyle St largely inaccessible, making streets like Vernon and Allan less usable, and soon SGR as well. It is a benefit for the small handful of people that those things cater to, but a downgrade for the greater population as a whole.
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  #203  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 1:32 PM
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Certainly many of the recent changes seem to be heading in exactly this direction. Look at the things that some Council members like Mason have championed - making Argyle St largely inaccessible, making streets like Vernon and Allan less usable, and soon SGR as well. It is a benefit for the small handful of people that those things cater to, but a downgrade for the greater population as a whole.
Not sure I agree with that. Argyle St has been a great success! I do have my reservations in regards to Spring Garden Rd though. I hope they don't mess up a good thing.
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  #204  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 1:37 PM
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Not sure I agree with that. Argyle St has been a great success! I do have my reservations in regards to Spring Garden Rd though. I hope they don't mess up a good thing.
Hardly a success. Businesses there cannot even receive deliveries half the time. Just wait until they apply that same thinking to SGR. Great way to kill a street.

Part of the problem is that they are taking concepts used elsewhere and trying to apply them here, but fail to take into account that where they have been done elsewhere, streets involved were much wider and therefore offered much more flexibility. Making Argyle essentially a 1-lane path was a very bad idea.
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  #205  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 1:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Haliguy View Post
Not sure I agree with that. Argyle St has been a great success! I do have my reservations in regards to Spring Garden Rd though. I hope they don't mess up a good thing.
I believe you are right that Argyle Street is a success. Mr. P., who has said more than once that he avoids downtown, should spend more time there. I was on Argyle last night, in fact, and the place was hopping: the street was filled with people, the restaurants and bars were lined up, diners were eating outside even in the evening chill and -- gasp -- they were actually having a good time. You don't have to have a long memory to recall a day when such a scene was unthinkable. All those business owners who moaned during the long Nova Centre construction process seem quite content today; I can't say I've heard of any complaining about delivery problems.
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  #206  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 3:00 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
The pendulum has swung back and forth. In the 1950's and 60's there was a lot of pseudo-scientific planning and a focus on traffic engineering. These days in a lot of cases I think we are to the point where there's not enough focus on some simple engineering type goals like getting people from A to B as quickly as possible, and a lot of municipal infrastructure development is consequently out in the weeds.

As a prime example of this, I've heard several city planners in Vancouver and Seattle downplay the importance of commute times. A while ago I was listening to one talk about the Alaska Way Viaduct demolition and he cavalierly said that traffic didn't worsen much because travel times didn't increase by 20-30 minutes or more, and he said that Seattleites were coping by commuting earlier or later, like at 6 am instead of 7 am. He talked about how clearing out the viaduct left more space for people instead of cars.

His attitude should have instead been that even a 5 minute slowdown each way when commuting is a big deal, and having to get up for work 30 minutes earlier in the day is a big deal too. Creating a nicer neighbourhood where the viaduct is now is also important but his weighting seemed very wrong. The Alaska Way Viaduct carried 91,000 vehicles per day.

Part of the disconnect is that there are many different demographics to be served by urban planning. The urbanite condo class tends to get the most attention these days, and planners consider that style of project the sexiest. A lot of the rhetoric about building places that people want to live in elides the fact that only a lucky few will get to live in those places or commute to them in a reasonable amount of time.

I'm not sure that Halifax has swung too far in this direction but some North American cities certainly have. As a result they have many great looking neighbourhoods for 5% of their population while 30% of people struggle to find a place to live and 60% suffer from bad commutes.
Well said, someone123. I have to say that I agree.
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  #207  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 3:02 PM
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I believe you are right that Argyle Street is a success. Mr. P., who has said more than once that he avoids downtown, should spend more time there. I was on Argyle last night, in fact, and the place was hopping: the street was filled with people, the restaurants and bars were lined up, diners were eating outside even in the evening chill and -- gasp -- they were actually having a good time. You don't have to have a long memory to recall a day when such a scene was unthinkable. All those business owners who moaned during the long Nova Centre construction process seem quite content today; I can't say I've heard of any complaining about delivery problems.
That's been my experience too. I really enjoy going there (except parking in NC... lol), and so do everybody (from out of town, for example) that we've taken there.
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  #208  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 3:14 PM
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Argyle hasn't been perfectly executed (deliveries and people parking all over the sidewalks remain an issue) but by and large it's turned into a pretty excellent street. One thing I sort of loathe is the way the Nova Centre's illumination bathes the street in garish and over-bright illumination. It actually makes the street feel sort of emptier by illuminating all the un-peopled corners, and the currently under-used Nove Centre street-level facade.

But that's fairly minor. Overall the street is very lively, and downtown as a whole has become in just in the past couple of years far, far more active and bustling than even when I moved here five years ago. It's really become one of the country's most active downtowns, in a city of any size. At least on a good night/day.
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  #209  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2019, 6:04 PM
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How much traffic did Argyle ever carry? Probably very little.

When talking about the balance between these planning perspectives I wasn't thinking so much about areas like Argyle, where a pedestrian focus is natural. It's also not so much about outer suburban areas where it's not practical to walk anywhere.

The projects on the edge in Halifax seem to be ones like the Bayers Road widening. Extremist anti-car advocates (or Tim Bousquet types; he seems to be anti-everything) will argue that no widening projects like that are ever needed (because more roads just mean induced demand, etc.). Even if the city grows by 100,000 people, the ideal road network is whatever happened to be built by 1990. They would even be against something like the badly needed Windsor Street exchange overhaul.

All growing cities with heavy traffic will need some road projects, and planning always needs to remain grounded by considering housing affordability and convenience of transport for everybody, not just how nice a given area looks or how much the people who use it like it (while ignoring all the people who can't use it).

I think one problem in Halifax is that there is little long-term vision for what transit services will be like. It's hard to say much about which areas will be busy corridors, how much bus traffic there will be along routes like Barrington, etc. HRM's plans seem to be very timid and seem to change every year.
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  #210  
Old Posted Oct 27, 2019, 11:24 AM
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How much traffic did Argyle ever carry? Probably very little.

When talking about the balance between these planning perspectives I wasn't thinking so much about areas like Argyle, where a pedestrian focus is natural. It's also not so much about outer suburban areas where it's not practical to walk anywhere.
Things like the Argyle project flipped that script so that you pretty much have to be in a position to walk there if you want to take part in whatever the street has to offer. Great if you are a university student or downtown-dwelling young single person; otherwise totally unwelcoming.

Quote:
The projects on the edge in Halifax seem to be ones like the Bayers Road widening. Extremist anti-car advocates (or Tim Bousquet types; he seems to be anti-everything) will argue that no widening projects like that are ever needed (because more roads just mean induced demand, etc.). Even if the city grows by 100,000 people, the ideal road network is whatever happened to be built by 1990. They would even be against something like the badly needed Windsor Street exchange overhaul.
What you state is true, but sadly, this is believed by many, perhaps most, within the HRM planning bureaucracy, who have been indoctrinated into the "induced demand" dogma. In fact as was noted earlier this week in another thread we were treated to a lecture by Sam Austin in his newsletter earlier this year on the evils of the Burnside expressway and how induced demand will just lead to more sprawl and traffic, meaning that the project is a Bad Thing. No doubt the same mindset is shared by the planner wannabes on Council like Mason and Cleary. These are the same geniuses who were decrying how changes in plans by the province mean that there will no longer be cycling lanes installed on Magazine Hill and Dartmouth road. Only the most zealous cycling activists would think those extreme hills are suited to bicycles.

In truth the only new roads built in the last 30-40 years within HRM have been in the suburbs to accommodate things in Burnside, Bayers Lake and those areas beyond. All of those things requiring those new roads have of course been approved development endorsed by Council, yet they turn around and complain about how traffic problems getting on and off the peninsula should not require increased capacity of arteries leading to the core. It is utter lunacy.

Quote:
All growing cities with heavy traffic will need some road projects, and planning always needs to remain grounded by considering housing affordability and convenience of transport for everybody, not just how nice a given area looks or how much the people who use it like it (while ignoring all the people who can't use it).
Yet this has been where HRM's attention has been diverted over the last few years. Downgrade road capacity by adding unused bike lanes and trumpet how progressive they are for doing so, while people sit spewing greenhouse gases in ever-worsening traffic as they look at the pretty unused cycling infrastructure. I can only imagine how much will be wastefully spent on adding bike lanes to the widened Bayers Road should that project ever actually come to pass, while likely doing very little to actually improve traffic flow.
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  #211  
Old Posted Oct 27, 2019, 3:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Things like the Argyle project flipped that script so that you pretty much have to be in a position to walk there if you want to take part in whatever the street has to offer. Great if you are a university student or downtown-dwelling young single person; otherwise totally unwelcoming.....
I share the same distaste of the terrible night-time lighting discussed here, but do have to say that my parents (70s, hip replacements, walk with cane) enjoy Argyle when they come in from the Valley. Not University students or downtown-dwelling young people.

They may not represent all people in their demographic, but I suspect that retiree farmers from rural NS are the opposite of who you've described this as appealing to.
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  #212  
Old Posted Oct 27, 2019, 4:05 PM
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How much traffic did Argyle ever carry? Probably very little.
I agree. Pedestrianlzing certain streets can make considerable sense, and Argyle is a good example of this. Being able to casually stroll along certain downtown concourses can be very relaxing, and can be very inviting to certain types of downtown businesses (especially restaurants and pubs). Argyle Street is an excellent example of this.

Spring Garden Road however is an entirely different beast. It is a major downtown thoroughfare and widening sidewalks here, and eliminating all parking along the side of the street will only add to vehicular congestion. In other areas like South Park Street, adding in dedicated biking lanes reduces vehicle capacity, and tends to discourage people from visiting the area.

Decisions regarding such changes require common sense rather than slavish adherence to any particular pro or anti car ideology,
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  #213  
Old Posted Oct 27, 2019, 5:37 PM
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Things like the Argyle project flipped that script so that you pretty much have to be in a position to walk there if you want to take part in whatever the street has to offer. Great if you are a university student or downtown-dwelling young single person; otherwise totally unwelcoming.
But there is a lot of parking downtown. There is probably more parking downtown than there was in the 1990's when there were a lot more surface lots. More parking now is in underground lots and garages. The Nova Centre has a parkade now and the Maritime Centre is getting one. Maybe it's changed but when I've been there the MetroPark has never been full and is about a 2 minute walk from Argyle Street. There are 2/3 as many parking spots in MetroPark as there are meters downtown and it's mostly covered, unlike surface parking.

It's not possible to provide plentiful and convenient on-street or surface parking in a busy downtown area, and it's hard even to have a high modal share of cars. Either you have a half dead area full of parking lots or you have a busy area with structured parking and some mix of transport options. Downtown Halifax can never be car friendly and successful at the same time. I think the biggest missing piece in downtown Halifax is not car-related infrastructure but rather some higher order form of transit that is more convenient, comfortable, and space-efficient than buses.
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  #214  
Old Posted Oct 29, 2019, 5:31 AM
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Maybe it's changed but when I've been there the MetroPark has never been full and is about a 2 minute walk from Argyle Street..
A two minute walk uphill. *whines*
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  #215  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2019, 2:38 AM
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Anticipated release date for Package B is February 21st (publicly) for the Feb. 26th council meeting. Consultation on the draft will then happen until April 24th. Target for public hearing and council on September 15th.

https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default...1127cdac84.pdf
https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default...1127cdac85.pdf
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  #216  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2020, 6:13 PM
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