I was on Information Morning recently, talking about changes to the business culture of the Hammonds Plains Road.
Over the last decade, I’ve watched as the Hammonds Plains Road, in the western part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, has changed from semi-rural to sprawling suburban. The area is deceptive to drive through. There’s one main artery (which residents consider woefully narrow to serve their needs) and when you travel along it, you could well think you’re on any semi-rural secondary road. You pass a school, a couple of gas stations, a few small strip malls.
As you get closer to Bedford, it’s more clearly suburban — four-pad hockey arena, RIM customer service building, more visible density. But for much of the road, all you see on either side is trees and spaced-apart homes — with little indication that beyond them lie miles and miles of classic suburban sprawl: twisty subdivision roads, cul-de-sacs, and those generic subdivision names that could be anywhere. People identify where they live by their subdivision. You don’t live in Hammonds Plains, you live in White Hills (located in one of the oldest Black settlements in the province), Kingswood, Highland Park, Voyageur Lakes, and so on.
I’m fascinated by one particular spot on the road. For years it housed a convenience store called Chrissy’s Trading Post. Chrissy’s eventually closed, and since then a succession of pizza places have come and gone — each seemingly identical to the last. I keep wondering what the new business owners think is going to be different for them.
Farther up the road, there was a long-standing bakery called M&S Foods. It closed down a year or so ago, and we watched as somebody sunk a huge amount of money into renovating the place. The new business is called Edible Matters, and it finally opened in July. It’s more of a high-end cafe/eat-in/take-out kind of place. Sandwiches will run you over ten bucks, and you can buy items like homemade chicken stock and preserves to take home. I wondered if they stood a hope in hell of making it here, but also if the business was on the leading edge of a trend of more urban-style boutique-type businesses coming to Hammonds Plains. There’s a small cluster of them now, and I headed out to interview a couple of the owners, including Chris Burton of Edible Matters.
You can listen to the results here, on the website for CBC Radio’s Information Morning.