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Cogswell Interchange Lands Plan FAQ's

Cogswell Interchange top of Aerial photo

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What is the Cogswell Interchange Lands Plan?

The exercise currently underway was requested by Regional Council to advance the thinking and technical knowledge around any proposed redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange by the Halifax Regional Municipality.


Who will be conducting the work?

HRM is calling for proposals from teams of engineers, city planners, and financial analysts to help HRM comprehensively examine and develop a plan for the lands.


Hasn’t the Municipality previously looked at redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange?

Yes, there has been discussion around redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange Lands by the city and by other groups over the past several years. This work will build on those discussions and visions to look at redevelopment at a finer level of detail exploring transportation, engineering, urban design and financial requirements in tandem.


Does this mean that the interchange will be demolished? 

Demolition of the Cogswell Interchange will be a Council decision. During the development of the HRMbyDesign Downtown Plan, the public and Council highlighted the redevelopment of the Interchange as an opportunity to grow the downtown.  This exercise will assist Council in deciding how and when that growth will happen. Redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange is a simple idea with several complex solutions. This plan will bring together the vision for a redeveloped interchange and test it with practical solutions.


Why do the study now?

The Cogswell area is a key entrance into downtown Halifax. Based on its aging infrastructure, HRM is aware that significant upgrades or removal of the structure will be required over the next few decades. Demolition is only one piece of the work that will need to be undertaken and should not be considered in isolation. Designing a plan now for the future redevelopment of this key opportunity site will ensure that HRM has thoughtfully considered all opportunities and constraints of the site and how it should be redeveloped.


What technical issues will be considered as part of this work?

While the vision and framework for the redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange is has been embedded in the Downtown Halifax Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy (DHSMPS) as part of HRMbyDesign, there are necessary technical solutions that need to be understood to test and achieve that vision. This includes:

  • the size and location of a surface road network
  • transportation and transit requirements
  • routing of existing and new underground services
  • implementation of sustainable development practices
  • improving connections to existing properties and neighbourhoods
  • location of public spaces
  • re-grading of the site
  • height/size/use regulations for new buildings
  • continuity of services through any demolition/redevelopment stage
  • size/location/value of developable lots
  • costs and financing of demolition and reinstatement of municipal infrastructure; and
  • phasing for any redevelopment.

What will be done with the Plan?

The plan will be combined with other municipal and downtown strategies to produce a practical and implementable strategy for the Cogswell redevelopment that strengthens the downtown and the Municipality as a whole.


Why don’t we leave the Interchange as is?

Maintaining the existing structure could very well be the short or medium term decision, however like all infrastructure, the Cogswell Interchange will not last forever and will eventually require substantial re-investment to maintain its present function. As the structure is overbuilt for the traffic that it carries, redevelopment of those lands to strengthen the downtown and provide room to grow is also a possibility. The public and Council made that clear during HRM by Design. This exercise will provide an analysis of how redevelopment could happen.


Is there is a problem with the Cogswell Interchange?

HRM monitors the condition of all of its interchanges and bridges. An engineering assessment several years ago revealed that the Cogswell Interchange was in need of repairs. Council budgeted over $1,000,000 for that work, which has since been completed. Those repairs are expected to ensure the current functionality of the Interchange for another seven years. That may sound like a long time, but it took nine years of planning to put the Interchange there in the late 1960’s.


Taking down the Cogswell Interchange sounds like an interesting idea, but I come through there every day; won’t it cause a major disruption?

Yes, dismantling the Cogswell Interchange would disrupt one of the key entrances into the downtown and to the south terminal of the Port of Halifax. It is one thing to know what to replace the Interchange with but another to know how to do it. The team will be tasked with developing an implementation plan which would entail continuity of services and any interim uses for the lands prior to complete redevelopment.  The Plan also is committed to developing a future street network which serves the transportation needs of pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles as well as provides a positive streetscape to support area residents, businesses and visitors, which do not currently exist.


Would redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange cost the tax payers money?

Removal of the existing infrastructure and redevelopment of the road network, transit infrastructure and underground services would be expensive, but there is also the potential to sell lands for private redevelopment and to collect additional taxes on lands that are currently municipally owned. Analysis of the potential costs and revenues is part of this exercise.


What if the study shows that it is too expensive to redevelop the site?

Council will ultimately weigh the benefits of redeveloping the site versus the cost. This study will provide the information necessary for Council to make an informed choice rather than entering into something which is not in the public’s best interest.

  


How will redevelopment impact neighbouring landowners and communities?

One of the key objectives of the Plan is to examine how the areas around the Cogswell Interchange can be reconnected with each other and to these lands. This includes the Gottingen and Brunswick Street areas, Halifax Common, naval dockyard to the north and west, and the waterfront/historic properties/downtown/Citadel Hill to the south. The Plan will examine how urban design, transportation networks and the removal of car-oriented infrastructure from the Interchange can help achieve the goal of creating a more liveable, vibrant downtown community.


What about the potential impact of redevelopment of Cogswell on other potential development sites in the urban core?

This is a key question that will be addressed as part of this work. In addition to the information to be collected and analyzed as part of this study, HRM has baseline data from 2009 as to potential uptake for new development in downtown Halifax. HRM will be updating this baseline data and combining it with this plan and an updated structural conditions assessment of the Cogswell Interchange. All of this information will inform Council and public discussions about how any Cogswell redevelopment fits into the near, mid and long term strategy for downtown Halifax and the Municipality.


How can I be part of this planning exercise?

This plan will be based on public feedback collected over the past ten years, most recently through HRMbyDesign.  This present work entails professional analysis of site opportunities and constraints, and the development of technical solutions to transportation, engineering, urban design and financing issues based on that overall public vision. It is a necessary step to provide important information to the public and Council as they determine the future of the Cogswell Interchange.

The public discussion on the future of the Cogswell redevelopment is anticipated to commence next fall once the results of this technical planning exercise is provided to Council’s Community Planning and Economic Development standing committee. One of the ways to participate is to stay informed by visiting and reviewing information on theCogswell Interchange webpage to prepare for future public discussions surrounding the site’s redevelopment.


I have information that I think is important to this project. What should I do with it?

More groups than just the Municipality have pondered the future of the Cogswell Interchange, including adjacent landowners, design, planning and business students, heritage groups, environment groups, professional associations, business and neighbourhood associations and other government agencies.  HRM and its consultants are interested in gathering this information. To that end persons who have something to contribute can contact the Municipality through e-mail at cogswell@halifax.ca or by calling Peter Bigelow, Manager of Real Property Planning at 490-6047. It is HRM’s intention to create a forum whereby materials and persons involved in the formulation of the vision for the Cogswell thus far will be available to the consultants.


Where can I find more information around the Cogswell Interchange?

HRM endeavours to put relevant information on the project webpage as it becomes available. Here you will find background documents, maps and drawings of previous ideas for the redevelopment of the site, as well as historical documents of how this site looked and functioned prior to the Interchange construction. Questions or comments can be e-mailed tocogswell@halifax.ca or call Peter Bigelow, Manager, Real Property Planning at phone number 490-6047.