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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call Peter Bigelow, Manager, Real Property Planning at phone number 490-6047.