- When will construction begin?
During the September 14, 2021 Regional Council meeting, the construction tender was awarded to Dexter Construction Limited. The project will now enter the pre-construction phase, which is expected to last three months. Once pre-construction activities are approved and completed, equipment and labour will be fully mobilized and the full project will commence in winter 2022. More information can be found in the staff report.
- How much will the Cogswell District project cost taxpayers?
The completion of the Cogswell District project is expected to cost approximately $122.6 million (gross) and span fiscal years 2021-22 to 2024-25.
This project has the potential to be primarily self-funded in the long term once construction is over and the redevelopment of the area is completed. The sale of land, utility cost sharing, and the subsequent property taxes will help off-set the front-end investment and generate long-term recurring revenue for the municipality.
The initial estimate for the cost of the redevelopment was $65 million in 2014 and was based on the high level conceptual plan for the Cogswell District. Updated estimates were prepared by professional cost consultants and presented during in-camera sessions to Regional Council at both the 60 per cent and 90 per cent design stages. The estimated cost for the redevelopment had increased from what was presented in 2014. This was expected to occur as the design progressed through the more detailed phases. Similarly, updates to the real estate assessment report revealed the projected revenues from the development blocks created by the project also had increased. The project budget reflected in the 2021/22 Capital Plan is $95M.
- Who will be conducting the work at the Cogswell District site?
The Cogswell District project construction tender was awarded to Dexter Construction Limited during the September 14, 2021 Regional Council meeting.
The municipality has hired a project director and project manager with experience successfully delivering projects of a similar scope and complexity. These roles improve oversight, accountability, pre-planning and risk management. Additionally, key consultants have been retained to ensure cost and performance concerns are monitored and addressed.
- I travel through downtown Halifax every day. Will this project cause major disruptions?
Dismantling the Cogswell Interchange and building new infrastructure will temporarily disturb one of the key entrances to downtown Halifax. The municipality hired a traffic consultant to ensure traffic detours through the site are simple, clear and orderly. Traffic management and timely communication of disruptions during the construction phases will be essential to the success of the project. The municipality will share information on delays or changes to detours through the construction zone with the public as soon as they become available.
The Cogswell team has worked with its designers and consultants to coordinate a three-stage buildout for the project that maintains an effective path through the Cogswell corridor at all times during construction. These stages will allow for two lanes north and two lanes south along Barrington/Upper Water streets and two east/westbound lanes through the current Cogswell Street connection.
- Are land negotiations complete?
Major land negotiations are substantially complete. The Halifax Regional Municipality has entered into a land exchange agreement with Crombie REIT (Crombie) to facilitate the development of Granville Park, a new Transit HUB and the planned Proctor Street as part of the Cogswell District project.
- What properties were involved in the land exchange with Crombie?
The land exchange agreement with Crombie includes the municipal acquisition of a large parcel of Crombie-owned land at the end of Granville Street (between Barrington and Hollis Streets) and three small parcels of land in exchange for a newly-created parcel of municipally-owned land where the Cogswell Interchange now stands. The land will be used facilitate the development of Granville Park, a new Transit HUB and the planned Proctor Street. The land exchange allows the municipality to complete a number of signature design pieces at the south end of the Cogswell District anchored by the planned Granville Park. It also provides Crombie with a comparable development opportunity within one of the biggest city-building projects in the history of Halifax.
- Did the Tender include a social procurement component?
As set out in Administrative Order 2020-004-ADM, adopted by Council in July of 2020, staff have identified social procurement opportunities to include contract requirements in the tender that aim to achieve social benefits/impact, specifically regarding workforce development and supplier diversity.
The goal of social procurement is to enhance community health and well-being by advancing reconciliation, inclusion, equity and diversity; increase economic opportunities by expanding participation of diverse and social value businesses in the municipality’s supply chain; improve economic independence and capacity by increasing employment and training opportunities for underemployed, unemployed, under-represented equity seeking populations; support community considerations in the supply chain and encourage environmental sustainability.
In the fall of 2020, staff engaged with several African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw community groups (Black Business Initiative, Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, 902ManUP, and the Mi’kmaw Friendship Center) to discuss economic development opportunities associated with the project for their communities. Staff and the community groups developed contract requirements in the tender that aim to achieve social benefits/impacts. These contract provisions included the following and will be implemented during the construction of the project:
• Development of a Workforce Development Plan aimed at achieving diversity within the construction workforce (with a target of 10 per cent of all apprenticeships and 20 per cent of all labour provided by individuals from equity seeking groups);
• Development of a Supplier Diversity Plan aimed at promoting diversity for suppliers of the construction project (with a target of 10 per cent of all subcontracts for goods and services going to businesses owned, managed and controlled by persons from equity seeking groups);
• Appointment of a Community Liaison to work with the Contractor, the municipality and the community in the development and implementation of these plans; and
• Establishment of an Advisory Committee made up of members from the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw communities and other equity seeking groups, to work with staff and the contractor to oversee and support the development and implementation of those plans.
- What is Traffic Demand Management and why is it important to the Cogswell District project?
The Cogswell District Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan will be directly inspired by the principles and actions included in the municipality’s Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP), which aims to shift the focus from eliminating congestion to managing the demand on the road network. One of IMP's objectives is to reduce demand on the road network by supporting a range of convenient and reliable transportation modes and flexible work times and locations. Increasing priority to non-auto modes (transit, walking, cycling) is essential to meeting the region’s non-auto mode share targets and improving the sustainability of the transportation system. The IMP also provides direction to promote alternative transportation options to single-occupancy vehicle trips, including active transportation, transit and ridesharing.
The TDM plan for the Cogswell District project will establish policies, practices, and tools that the municipality can use to manage travel demand during the construction period. Therefore, this project provides a significant opportunity to encourage positive changes in travel behaviors and work towards meeting the IMP’s mode share targets. It is expected the TDM plan will also draw from the many TDM initiatives and organizations that are currently in place here in the municipality. Most notable is the SmartTrip program, which is a municipality-led initiative that aims to encourage commuters to explore sustainable commuting options and consider more flexible work arrangements.
The main objectives of the TDM plan include:
- establishing a detailed understanding of the current and anticipated travel behavior during construction associated with the redevelopment of the Cogswell District; and
- helping to minimize and alleviate the transportation impact to local businesses, employers, residents and commuters by promoting other travel options and providing information to assist everyone who will be affected by the traffic disruptions during the construction phases of the project.
- What is the Cogswell Interchange (site of the new Cogswell District)?
The Cogswell Interchange is a piece of road infrastructure in downtown Halifax that was built as part of the Harbour Drive Transportation Plan. The plan was abruptly cancelled in 1971, leaving the interchange as an orphaned piece of an unfinished expressway. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the interchange saw approximately 55,000 vehicle-trips a day and operates at 55-70 per cent of its potential capacity.
- What is the anticipated land and building use for the parcels that will become available as a result of the Cogswell District project?
The Cogswell Lands Plan provides for six acres of street infrastructure, three kilometers of new curb-separated bike lanes and active transportation paths, four acres of parks and open spaces and five acres of development parcels. It’s anticipated that new development parcels will include primarily residential uses with other uses included to support residents of the area and generate destination-type activities for those outside the area.
As with any proposed development, future developments will be subject to the municipal planning application process, including public engagement and Regional Council approval. Given the long timeline of this project, future market demands will likely have some impact on land uses. Market studies will be reviewed and updated over time to ensure the appropriate uses are enabled based on the needs of the community at the time development is implemented. Land uses and building heights are governed by the existing DH-1 zoning on the site. Amendments to the Downtown Halifax Land Use By-law will be considered in the coming months and will follow the standard planning amendment process including opportunities for public input. It is expected that mixed-use buildings with street-level retail and commercial uses will make Cogswell District home to approximately 2,500 residents.
- What is the plan for releasing land for development and how will this affect other developments already underway or proposed within the Halifax region?
The construction phase of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project is expected to be finished by 2025. Development of newly created lots will not be fully realized until several years after the street infrastructure construction is completed. The municipality will undertake future market studies as required to ensure the land released can be adequately adsorbed by the prevailing future real estate markets. This will ensure other proposed or ongoing developments are not adversely affected by the introduction of new development capacity.
- Will there be opportunities for active transportation infrastructure?
Yes. The 90 per cent design plan outlines active transportation infrastructure including 1.1km of new curb-separated bike lanes as well as active transportation trails leading into the downtown core with enhanced connections to the Halifax waterfront, Granville Mall and other key downtown landmarks. There will be dedicated bicycle priority crossings at major intersections and property driveways which will incorporate bicycle signals to ensure rider safety. Narrower streets and wider sidewalks lined with treed boulevards create great walking environments throughout the new district. The multi-use trail extends south from Cornwallis Street to Cogswell Street along the western perimeter of the District.
- What will the new transit hub look like and how will it improve service?
The transit hub consists of over 550m of dedicated curbside transit lanes along Barrington Street. A condensed transit hub centers on Barrington, Bell and Hollis streets with pedestrian linkages through Granville Plaza to the waterfront and ferry terminal. Bus routes from Duke and Albemarle streets are relocated to the transit block. The street network has been conceived to allow for transit priority, specifically the incorporation of dedicated transit-only lanes on Barrington to Upper Water streets with priority signals. Transit-only lanes now extend along Barrington Street between Upper Water and Cornwallis streets. The Granville Square/Ordinance Park areas contribute to the transit hub by providing creative outdoor spaces for transit riders and dedicated pedestrian connections to the waterfront and Halifax Ferry Terminal. Interesting bus shelters, signage, lighting and landscaping make this section of Barrington Street function as an identifiable transit mall. Potential indoor waiting areas in adjacent developed building can provide all-weather shelter for transit users.
- Will vehicles be able to use the interchange during construction?
Yes. One of the most important deliverables during the design phase will be for the prime design consultant and the traffic engineering consultant to compile a construction staging plan that will, to the fullest extent possible, retain current vehicle routes throughout the demolition and construction phases. The construction phasing plan will be confirmed by the constructor selected through the tender process. This will occur prior to construction commencing.
- How will redevelopment affect neighbouring landowners and communities?
The Cogswell District redevelopment team continues to meet with a wide group of external stakeholders to discuss the project and help minimize the impact during the demolition and construction period. There is significant goodwill towards the concept of redevelopment, and it is important these groups continue to be engaged to ensure their concerns are understood by the design team.
- How will the project be managed to help prevent cost and time overruns?
The municipality has hired a project director with experience successfully delivering projects of a similar scope and complexity. This role will improve oversight, accountability, pre-planning and risk management. Additionally, key consultants have been retained to ensure cost and performance concerns are monitored and addressed.
- What is the anticipated use for the land that will become available as a result of the Cogswell District project?
In addition to the newly created street network, active transportation paths and parks and open spaces, it’s anticipated that new development parcels would include primarily residential uses with other uses included to support residents of the area and generate destination-type activities for those outside the area. Any future developments are subject to the municipal planning application process, including public engagement and Regional Council approval. Given the significant timeline of this project, future market demands will have an impact on land usages.
- Is a district energy plan part of the Cogswell District project?
On June 30, 2021, the federal and provincial governments announced funding support for the Cogswell District Energy System. The project will support a district energy system that supplies renewable energy from the nearby Halifax Wastewater Treatment Facility’s wastewater effluent to six mixed-use buildings within the district.
District energy systems produce steam, hot water, warm water or chilled water at a central plant, which is then piped underground to individual buildings for space heating, domestic hot water heating and air conditioning. Those buildings served by a district energy system can eliminate or reduce the need for their own boilers, furnaces, chillers or air conditioners, as the system can do that work for them. The setup provides valuable benefits, including improved energy efficiency and environmental protection.
- Do you need a re-routing plan for trucks during construction?
The Cogswell team has worked with its designers and consultants to coordinate a three-stage buildout for the project that maintains an effective path through the Cogswell corridor at all times during construction. These stages will allow for two lanes north and two lanes south along Barrington/Upper Water streets and two east/westbound lanes through the current Cogswell Street connection. These roads will be available to provide vehicle and heavy truck access and connectivity through the Cogswell corridor throughout the entire project.
- Will the Cogswell District project detour heavy trucks in our downtown?
Trucks will continue to travel throughout the Cogswell District as it is a main connecting artery to the Port of Halifax. The southern port terminal is a major economic contributor to Halifax and the Cogswell project must accommodate this traffic now and in the future.
Traffic specialty consultants were engaged throughout the planning process to ensure that while trucks remained on these roads, their speed and overall impact to the neighborhoods was reduced to the greatest extent possible. Roundabouts create a prominent gateway while slowing traffic entering the downtown, converting Barrington Street from an arterial thoroughfare to an urban street. Large trucks are accommodated while maintaining neighbourhood friendly speeds. While the street network has been designed to accommodate current truck volumes to the Port of Halifax, is not intended to facilitate volume growth for heavy transports.
Additionally, the Windsor Street Exchange Redevelopment Project will improve truck movements to and from the Fairview Cove Container Terminal, supporting a project by the Port of Halifax to increase goods movement by rail between the South End Container Terminal and the Fairview Cove Container Terminal, which will remove a significant volume of containerized truck traffic from the downtown.
- How will redevelopment improve connectivity between existing communities and infrastructure such as the Halifax waterfront?
Redevelopment of the Cogswell area will re-establish the connection between downtown Halifax, the Halifax waterfront and the surrounding neighbourhoods that was lost when the interchange was constructed.
A few examples of this potential reconnection include:
- Extending the existing Barrington Street Active Transportation Greenway to connect the boardwalks around the casino and along the waterfront
- A new at grade Cogswell street to intersect Upper Water Street and extend to the waterfront between Purdy’s Towers and the casino parking lot providing direct connectivity between the Waterfront boardwalk and the Halifax Commons
- Connections to and from Granville Mall to take advantage of the strong existing waterfront connection between the Marriot hotel and Historic Properties
- New park and plaza spaces between Barrington and North Park streets enhance connectivity between Cogswell District and the Halifax Common New pedestrian linkages between the Halifax Ferry Terminal, Historic Properties and Granville Square
- A new urban square at the south end of the district.
- Is the existing Cogswell Interchange safe to use?
Yes. The condition of all municipal road infrastructure is monitored on a regular basis.
- If it’s safe, why don’t we keep the interchange?
The interchange doesn’t enhance livability in the regional centre. The structure is over-built and will eventually require substantial investments. The interchange is approximately 52 years old; structures of this type typically have an average lifespan of 75 years. Current estimates are that the municipality will have to spend $3.4M for deferred and ongoing bridge/structure maintenance. In the longer term (12-25 years) the existing road and bridge structure will have to be replaced at an estimated cost of $56M.
Redevelopment is the best option to accommodate traffic movement, enhance community connectivity and release land for developm ent that will strengthen the population base and increase economic activity in the downtown core.
- Who owns and maintains the Cogswell Interchange?
The land is owned and maintained by the municipality with cost sharing from the Province of Nova Scotia for maintenance of two of the existing structures.