Wilderness terminated

Halifax council approves building new Bridge Terminal on urban wilderness land

click to enlarge An architectural rendering of the proposed Bridge Terminal
An architectural rendering of the proposed Bridge Terminal
The proposed expansion of Metro Transit's Bridge Terminal is one step closer to reality, as Halifax council Tuesday gave its final OK to placing the new terminal on land occupied by the Urban Wilderness Park in the Dartmouth Common. Council still has to approve architectural plans and allocate the money to build the terminal but, judging by councillors' statements Tuesday, those actions should present no substantial impediments to the project. If all goes according to plan, construction will start this construction season, with completion in 2011.

Many Dartmouth residents say the removal of the wilderness park and building a large bus terminal next to Dartmouth high school is emblematic of Halifax disdain for Dartmouth. "If this was a proposal to build a bus terminal on the Halifax Common next to Citadel High, we wouldn't be here," said Jane MacKay, a former member of the old Dartmouth school board. "It wouldn't be a question---it'd be impossible."

City staff countered that there is simply no other site for the terminal. Placing it west of Wyse Road or at Alderney Landing was rejected for a variety of logistical reasons (see tinyurl.com/BadTerminalIdeas). An earlier plan to simply extend the existing terminal up Nantucket Avenue was changed after Dartmouth High students and staff objected that the terminal came within 80 feet of the school building.

The amended plan places the terminal perpendicular to Nantucket, stretching to Thistle Street. At it's closest, the terminal will be about 300 feet from the school building, with the school's sports field in between. The terminal will be dug into the hill---18 tonnes of slate will be removed---and so, argues staff, the hill will shield the school from the sound and glare of the terminal.

"It's a very tough decision for me," said Dartmouth councillor Gloria McCluskey. "If there was any other site, I wouldn't be supporting this, but there is no other site." The new terminal will have 18 bus bays, a heated waiting area with snack bar and much-needed washrooms. It will cost $9.5 million to build.

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