On October 13, 2020 a meeting of the Peninsula South Complete Streets Advisory Committee was exploring ways to make it possible for bike lanes to go through Morris Street in Schmidtville (the neighbourhood bounded by Clyde, Queen, South, Morris and Brenton Streets In downtown Halifax.)
Among the possibilities mentioned by HRM staff to achieve this goal was the cutting down of up to 48 trees on Morris Street.
This suggestion is so outrageous that it makes a mockery of HRM’s attempt to green the city by promoting alternatives to private automobiles. HRM staff at the end of the October 13 meeting suggested that these proposals be kept secret. Why? In the interests of public engagement, the public needs to know, immediately.
The planting of trees in the 1970s was one of the first and most transformational events that led to the revitalization of Schmidtville and its eventual attainment of Heritage Conservation District status in 2017.
Residents of Schmidtville and residents of Morris Street are greatly alarmed by even the ghost of a suggestion that these trees could be lost. Is HRM proposing to cut off its nose to spite its face? Even if this proposal is meant as an opening bargaining chip in the discussion, it is shocking and needs to be nipped in the bud. Or affected residents will be honing their civil disobedience/tree-hugging skills in order to protect their neighbourhood.
There are other possible threats to Schmidtville posed by the bike lanes. But this does not mean that the residents are anti-bike. Many of us are bike-riders. And, because of Schmidtville’s location in the heart of the downtown area, many of us walk and use public transit.