Walking Infrastructure

People walking down the sidewalk on Brunswick Street

Halifax's walking & rolling infrastructure consists of sidewalks, street-to-street walkways and multi-use pathways. The municipality builds, recapitalizes and maintains HRM's pedestrian network.

The 2017 Integrated Mobility Plan provides direction for refining pedestrian infrastructure, including:

  • Making it easier and safer for walking.
  • Completing significant gaps in the sidewalk network, including on corridors like Herring Cove Road, and Dutch Village Road.
  • Developing an approach to add pedestrian infrastructure in rural community centres.

Please visit the road safety page to learn more about how the municipality is working towards improved safety for all road users, including those walking & rolling. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I request a new sidewalk?

You, or your Councillor on behalf of a resident or group of residents, may request that your street is assessed for new sidewalks by contacting 3-1-1. When calling 3-1-1, you should prepare the details of your request, including the street name and street limits to be assessed.

How will each sidewalk request be evaluated?

The Active Transportation Priorities Plan identifies evaluation criteria through which the construction of new sidewalk projects can be prioritized to have the maximum impact on residents.  Many of these factors are related to nearby pedestrian trip generators, including proximity to schools (weighted by enrollment), daycares, seniors homes, public transit (e.g. stops and terminals), major parks and park features (e.g. playgrounds, sport courts), recreation centres/community centres and areas with high residential density, areas with commercial shopping opportunities and areas with a high number of employment (e.g. hospitals and universities). 

In addition, the evaluation also measures classification of road (e.g. local vs. collector vs. arterial), whether or not there are curbs or existing shoulders to walk on (>2m or <2m), if there’s existing sidewalk on the other side of the road If the request ‘fills a gap’ in the sidewalk network (connects to existing pieces of sidewalk), if it’s a local road with high traffic volumes due to shortcutting or if there are any safety concerns around narrow right-of-way or sightlines. The resulting assessment is tallied into a final sidewalk rating and filed into the Municipality’s construction prioritization list based on this score.  Qualitative descriptors (e.g. Average, Above Average, High) are shared with the requestor as the prioritization list is subject to flux due to new incoming ratings.

How is sidewalk snow clearing prioritized?

The municipality is responsible for providing sidewalk snow clearing services. Please visit the winter operations site to learn more about the municipalities' snow clearing programs. After a snow event, sidewalk clearing is prioritized based on street type. This map outlines which streets & sidewalks are cleared first after a snow event. Service updates are posted online directly following weather events to alert residents as to sidewalk clearing status. Please visit the maintenance services site to learn more about the various other services provided by the municipality. 

Why do some streets have sidewalks and other streets do not?

Prior to amalgamation in 1996, the former towns within the region all differed in their approach to sidewalk development. While some roadways, subdivisions and commercial areas were originally built with sidewalks, many others were built without sidewalks.

There were many reasons for this. Some roads like the Bedford Highway were once considered rural and were never upgraded to include sidewalks. Business parks were often built without sidewalks because they were intended to serve car and truck traffic. Today, many business parks feature large retail and office spaces which have generated demand for sidewalks, bicycle lanes and better transit connectivity. There are many gaps in the urban sidewalk network because of these historical development patterns.

In newly built communities within HRM, sidewalks are required on one or both sides of new roads depending on the road classification.  Their installation is the responsibility of the developer and does not follow the process outlined below.

How many sidewalks are constructed each year?

Based on the current available budget, approximately 5 to 10 new sidewalk projects can be constructed each year.  There are over 650 requests on the prioritization list, meaning only the highest rated segments are considered annually.

If a sidewalk rates ‘High’ it may qualify to be built as a standalone project.

In most cases, the sidewalk installation is integrated with adjacent road recapitalization work where asphalt and/or curbs are being replaced.  This is a cost-saving measure as the crews are already on site, which allows HRM to tackle more sidewalk projects each year.  This could also mean having a somewhat ‘High’ rating but waiting a few years to time sidewalk installation with other upcoming roadwork.

How are sidewalks funded?

The construction of new sidewalks in urban communities is funded by the Municipality through the urban general tax rate.  For new sidewalks within the suburban and rural tax designations, a local improvement charge or ‘area rate’ is applied to the neighbourhood to offset the cost of installation.  This is a longer process and should be initiated through your Councillor.

What about sidewalks in rural ‘village centres’?

Municipal staff are in the process of developing a ‘Rural Active Transportation Program’ to help prioritize and fund new sidewalks in areas outside the urban tax designation. A staff report will be brought to Council in 2021 for approval and updated information will be added to this webpage.