What do these two watercourses, Freshwater Brook and Sawmill River, have in common you might ask? Well, for now, they are both underground.
Freshwater Brook drains the Halifax Common watershed into Halifax Harbour and was piped underground around 1878. See Matt Neville’s detailed essay: Representing Halifax, Exploring the Potential of the City through Mapping
and Freshwater Brook Facebook. Sawmill River was part of the Shubie Canal system and runs between Dartmouth’s Sullivan’s Pond into the Halifax Harbour and was piped underground in the 1970s for flood-control.In February 2006 HRM adopted a policy for day lighting these streams. [Note in the staff report, found at 2006 HRM Policy on Daylighting of Rivers – Halifax Regional Council, February 7, 2006 – HRM – PolicyforDaylightingRivers the map for Freshwater Brook incorrectly shows up only at Spring Garden Road rather than north of the North Common.]
In 2015 the Halifax Water Commission will replace the pipes that transport Sawmill River’s water. Citizens hope to have the Mayor and Council support daylighting the Sawmill River. Daylighting streams and rivers is happening around the world and it can accomplish a lot. (See Sam Austin’s essay for details on Sawmill River A River Runs Under it: Daylighting Sawmill River – Spacing Atlantic)
If you have an opportunity please encourage the Mayor and Council to go for it, and as well, to add Freshwater Brook to the project list. Wouldn’t it be exciting to walk along a stream on the Halifax Common? But for now the city’s plans for Freshwater Brook’s path are for more paving, this time right on the path of Freshwater Brook, next to the wading pool, skate park, crosswalk and Pavilion on the Central Common. Parking lots are us.