Halifax won't issue patio permits for a busy part of the downtown bar district this summer while construction crews revamp the streetscape.
Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality, said Halifax is upgrading two blocks of Argyle Street — between Blowers and Prince streets, and part of Grafton Street — between Prince and Carmichael streets.
"For this one season, we will not be issuing cafe permits to the businesses along the area that's going to have these upgrades," she said Thursday.
"They'll no longer have to construct their own sidewalk cafes. Once this work is complete, they'll simply have to install their own barriers and they can apply for a year-round permit for sidewalk patios."
Crews will lower the sidewalks to street level and put in paving stones to mark the sidewalk from the street. The municipality is considering construction tenders now and expects to start work on June 1 and finish in late September.
"Essentially the project is the idea of creating a shared space for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles to all be able to safely travel and enjoy that space together," she said.
While that might yield long-term benefits, it means businesses in those areas won't be able to put out street cafes this summer. Chase said it's unavoidable, as some of the work can only be done at that time of year.
"We believe that the overall benefit that is going to be seen in this significant investment into this already exciting area of downtown Halifax … is going to far outweigh the short-term pain of the construction," she said.
She said the municipality is working closely with affected businesses.
More pain for downtown bars
Mike Campbell founded The Carleton Music Bar and Grill on Argyle Street. He is in the process of selling the bar. He said the much-prolonged construction of the Nova Centre has hurt business in the area already. Redecking the Macdonald Bridge also hampered access to the downtown over the last year.
"As these things are coming to a close, now we're going to have this happen," he said.
He said he's "very excited" about the project, but said cancelling the 2017 patio season will be another tough economic blow.