SAINT JOHN – I spent my thanksgiving with a friend’s family in Saint John, giving me the chance to do a good deal of walking around town. One thing that struck me was the elegantly designed bus shelters surrounding King Square, City Hall and the Loyalist Burying Ground downtown. Made of wrought-iron, these bus shelters are the nicest I have seen anywhere in Canada. Although I only saw them downtown, I’m told they can be found all over Saint John, and not just in the places most visited by tourists, a sign that aesthetic considerations have been taken into account by City Hall when it comes to streetscapes and urban design.
Besides their good looks, they also seem remarkably functional. The handful of designed shelters I saw all nicely protected their waiting transit users from the rain and wind; their windows, walls and roof doing exactly what windows, walls and a roof should do. While that may seem like a pretty inane comment, in Halifax, keeping shelters working properly has become a real challenge in the face of continuing vandalism. Here Saint John may point the way forward, providing an example of how better urban design can actually be cost-effective and functionally superior in some situations.
In the Loyalist Burying Ground, I found another bus shelter that a different design. Built during the Irving’s renovation of the Burying ground, it’s great to see that the city doesn’t force shelters to conform to one specific mold when they are rebuilt with the help of private individuals.
photos by Jake Schabas