Downtown Developments

I spent so much time researching rail safety and green hydrogen this week that I have time to touch just briefly on two other issues that have piqued my interest of late.

One is an observation about the newly refurbished section of Charlotte Street in Sydney, but first, I must acknowledge that I was wrong about the wire situation: they did, in fact, get rid of the poles on one side of the street, as per the artist’s rendition, and it is an improvement although the wires still constitute a very visible part of the landscape.

Artist's rendition of revamped Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS

But what I’m now curious about is, what happened to the bike lane? I notice there’s a bike in the picture above, and the way the street is depicted, it looks bike friendly enough, but in real life, there are cars parked on both sides and a pretty steady stream of traffic traveling down it, making it much less so.

I went back to the original Ekistics + Design + Planning master plan for the downtown and discovered a section labeled “Active Transport” in which the authors say:

During the course of this study, the idea of creating a dedicated cycle lane on Charlotte Street was met with much enthusiasm as it provides a safe couplet with both George and Esplenade [sic] (and the boardwalk). Additional discussion on this concept is discussed in the master plan chapter as the idea of creating a cycle friendly downtown is a key element of the urban core plan.

Sure enough, the master plan chapter of the report includes a discussion of active transport options for Charlotte Street:

The economics of incorporating bike lanes on main streets is well documented around the world and so the idea of adding a single way bike lane (in the same southbound direction as traffic) was presented as an early option for Charlotte Street. Researchers have found that people who drive to businesses spend more money per visit, but bike riders visit more often, resulting in spending more money over all. They found that “customers arriving by bike spent 24 per cent more per month than customers arriving in cars”. Many of these economic impact studies focus on replacing parking on one side of the street with a bike lane. The advantage, in the case of Charlotte Street, is that the redesign allows parking on both sides of the street, AND a dedicated bicycle lane. Since the street is one way, the cycle lane is a couplet with the bike lanes proposed for Esplenade [sic] (and indeed the waterfront boardwalk which is also cycle friendly.

As this study was progressing, the second cruise berth was approved in Sydney and with it came the discussion of providing bike tours from the cruise terminal through downtown Sydney. The idea of making Charlotte Street bike-friendly for ‘non-professional’ cyclists was considered to be very important to improving the vitality of Charlotte Street. After assessing the options, it was decided that a bike lane should be part of the street design program. A further analysis of whether it should go on the street, or on the sidewalk was undertaken by the consultants. In the end, the option for a sidewalk integrated bike lane was favoured over the street related bike lane. This model has been adopted in Munich, the Indianapolis Trail, and in Halifax through the new Cogswell District. There are good precedents for this type of shared sidewalk and bike lane. Further discussion should be undertaken during the early stages of detailed design to determine whether the bike lane is ultimately accommodated off street or on street.

There are even artist’s renditions of the bike lane:

Artist's rendition of bike lane, Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS

Source: Ekistics Downtown Sydney Development Plan


Artist's rendition of bike lane, Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS

Source: Ekistics Downtown Sydney Development Plan

My first thought was that perhaps these lanes were yet to come, but looking at the depiction of the revamped street above (the one that is posted on Charlotte Street) I have to think they are not. But I will look into this and get back to you.




Credit where credit is due

I have discovered the identities of the architects behind what we are now calling the Sydney Waterfront Campus of the NSCC.

I realize this information was not kept secret, but I hadn’t run across it before, so was very interested to find out that there are actually two firms—Barrie and Langille Architects Ltd. of Halifax and Moriyama & Teshima Architects of Toronto—credited with the design for the building, which still looks pretty much as it did in this 2022 photo:

Aerial photo of NSCC Waterfront Campus in Sydney, NS

Source: Daily Commercial News

I couldn’t find any online presences for Barrie and Langille (which is odd, in 2023) but I found Moriyama & Teshima and they include some renditions of the building, which they seem to feel appears to its best advantage when seen through a light mist:

Artist's rendition of Sydney Waterfront Campus NSCC

Source: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Artist's rendition of Sydney Waterfront Campus NSCC

Source: Moriyama & Teshima Architects


The same firm was responsible for the Canada Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and is it just me, or does it owe something to our Civic Centre?

Canada Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai

Source: Moriyama & Teshima Architects


I ran across the architects’ names in this 2022 Daily Commercial News article in which I also discovered that the 800 H-piles driven to allow construction on the site, which is basically infill, made it “the largest piling project in Canada at the time,” according to “project manager Ian Graveline of EllisDon, which partnered with Joneljim Concrete Construction (1994) in the joint venture.”

I discovered  that the weather is  “a challenge” because it’s “quite a windy site,” a state of affairs unlikely to change once the building is complete.

I also found out that the building will be covered in terra cotta cladding “meant to highlight the look of the shore of Sydney and Glace Bay area where it has that red tinge to it.”

Who knew?