Mix in the Tall ships, blend the G-7 meetings, add the Casino, stir in a little fog, combine the friendliest people, mingle in history, toss in theatres, museums, natural parks and a garnish with The Public Gardens and you have Halifax.
I live across the harbour from Halifax, a 10 minute ride. Living nearby and being a tourists are two very different views. So I decided to be a tourist. I know the limitations of the city when it comes to accessibility but I wanted to see it through a visitor's eyes. Like many European cities the downtown is old and many accessible areas seem a little more clumsy than the newer cities.
First to get the geography, Halifax is on a peninsula and built on hills, The Citadel Hill ( fort) over looks the city and the downtown area is literally down to the ocean from Citadel Hill. A very steep, down.
When you are down on the Waterfront and if you are staying at the Sheraton located on the Waterfront, you do have quite level access. The Waterfront includes shops, restaurants and the Atlantic museum. You can get to the two streets that run parallel to the Waterfront, but after that it is up hill. The hills are too steep for most of us in wheelchairs, a hearty scooter can probably traverse them. But you will need a strong ‘pusher’, or use the Access- Bus, Access-a- Cab or your own car.
Once up to the Citadel Hill level the city does flatten, and you have accessible access to The Public Gardens on Spring Garden Road, and at the very southern tip of the city, Point Pleasant Park.
While visiting any city, no one can see it all, three areas that you might want to take in while in Halifax are
1.The Waterfront, which includes the Sheraton Hotel and Casino, Atlantic Museum, Purdy’s Wharf for shopping, eating and entertainment 2. Spring Garden Road Area that includes The Public Gardens, shopping and eating 3.South End Halifax that includes Point Pleasant Park and beautiful homes that show a variety of architectural styles.
A great place to stay is at the Sheraton Hotel and Casino located right on the Halifax Waterfront. The Sheraton is a very accessible hotel. The staffs’ attitudes are exemplary, from front
desk staff to housekeeping staff, nothing was too much trouble and they were always friendly. The Sheraton not only offers you easy access to the Waterfront but also provides it's own excellent facilities from the well-appointed handicap room to the pool and casino, and also a fine dining room, which has a super breakfast buffet to a lovely English style pub, the Drum and Fife with big screen TV. The Sheraton has well lighted secure underground parking with several handicap parking spaces next to the elevator. Hertz rent a car is also located in the Lobby, and Hertz is always my choice of rental companies. Their attitude is right on when it comes to dealing with me and my wheelchair.
Out the front door of The Sheraton and turn left you are at the Waterfront. There is always something happening along the waterfront from early morning into the wee hours. Formally the storage sheds for the seafaring merchants it has been transformed into shops, restaurants and offices. Most of the shopping is found in boutique style shops in Privateers Wharf. Most shops are accessible but don’t be surprised that a few have “just one step." Not to make excuses for Halifax but because it is an old city, there are many places with “ just one step," frustrating yes, maybe unfair but better to be forewarned.
Try Salty’s for lunch. It is literally on the water's edge, ask to sit outside on the patio. As you nourish yourself on their great food you will be entertained by just watching the activity of the harbour.
There are several Harbour cruises that are accessible, just remember accessible can mean ‘with help’. The wharf’s are high the tides can be low and the gangplanks to the boats can be steep. Loading and unloading cannot be done alone and might take some effort. These cruises range form two to eight hours. Washroom facilities can be limited on the cruises. They range in price from $16.00 to $35.00 per person.
There is though, a great way to be on the harbour and it is accessible and reasonable priced. Take the Halifax ferry from the waterfront. I suggest taking the ferry around 7:00 p.m. and make reservations at MacAskills Restaurant on the Dartmouth side, located above the ferry terminal. The ferry costs $1.10 per person one way. When making reservations at MacAskills make sure you indicated your handicap and if you need level access or can walk some, as parts of the restaurant are raised. Treat yourself to any of their wide selection of seafood. Enjoy the spectacular sunset over Halifax. On your return ferry trip delight in the lights of Halifax.
While at the Waterfront make sure you have lots of time to just linger, enjoying the sights and sounds. Take time to sit and savor.
Spring Garden Road Area:
A real treat awaits you when you visit The Public Gardens at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street. Disabled parking is poor in this section of town but use the public parking behind Spring Garden Place. Then walk or roll a block to
the Gardens. The beauty of the flowers, shrubs, swans and ducks are good for the heart and soul. Traversing is over lightly gravel pathways. Many places to stop and savor the beauty. Other than the shopping centres like Halifax Shopping centre, found in the West End of Halifax and Scotia Square located in downtown Halifax, Spring Garden Road is a premier shopping area. Two small indoor malls are accessible, Spring Garden Place and Park Lane. Most shops are accessible. Spring Garden Road is streaming with people so delight in the activity as you grab coffee or ice cream cone.
If you and your travel companion or family are up for a nice city walk start at Spring Garden Road and walk south down South Park Street, Here you will see many types of architecture, few high rises, mostly houses, many that of have been converted into flats. Continue on South Park Street to the corner of Inglis Street, here South Park Street switches names and becomes Young Avenue. This switching of street names in mid stream is an idiosyncrasy of Halifax. Continue south along Young Avenue and you will view some of the very best, older homes in Halifax. At the end of Young Avenue is Point Pleasant park, with 186 acres of natural parkland. The park is very hilly in some areas yet the walking and wheeling trails are well tended..hard packed with some light gravel. Either go into the park from the end of Young Avenue or turn left and head down the hill, a good walk but you will find another entrance to the park that will take you to the mouth of the harbour and Black Point Beach. The water is cold and the beach is not accessible but walk along the
shoreline past the beach and you will get a real feel for the harbour and park. I suggest taking a bus or cab back to the hotel.
Halifax has an ambiance connecting old and new. A friendliness and a kindness of spirit. All are welcome . . . come and enjoy
Tourism Nova Scotia 800-565-0000 Halifax Tourism: 421-8736 Canadian Airlines 800-665-1177 Access a Cab ( Ace) 429-4444 Access Bus 421-2999 Sheraton Hotel and Casino 800-325-3535 Disability Rec Council 423-6482
TIP:Halifax Tourism has a good handout called “Accessibility in Halifax that details what is accessible and how much it is accessible. The brochure includes, shopping restaurants, points of interest, hotels etc. Ask for it specifically when getting materials.
The Canada page: