The plan to redevelop a large portion of downtown Halifax is about to become reality, with Halifax Regional Council passing a motion on Tuesday that will see the Cogswell interchange head to the wrecking ball.
After a long debate, council voted 15-0 to approve the 90 per cent construction design plan, deciding to push forward despite 26 local organizations that had been asking for more public consultation.
“I haven’t heard a compelling reason as to why we should defer at this point at all,” said Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre.
Waye Mason, councillor for Halifax South Downtown, said that it would be unusual for the project to go out for more public consultation at this point in development, comparing it to the Argyle streetscape project which was approved at 50 per cent completion before going to tender.
Staff will now proceed with a tender for the project tearing down the interchange, a series of unnecessary series of flyovers and overpasses that were built in the 1960s to facilitate a freeway along the waterfront. That project was eventually abandoned in 1971.
Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, has described the Cogswell as a “planning blunder from the 1970s.”
A new neighbourhood will be constructed in its place — with the goal of adding a pedestrian and cyclist friendly road network, four acres of parks and open spaces and five acres of development.
No detailed building designs have been provided at this time.
WATCH: Cogswell Interchange demolition plans underway
After consultation and a report by Gehl, an international urban design firm, a roundabout connecting Barrington Street and Upper Water Street was eliminated from a previous design.
Staff said during a presentation on Tuesday that the roundabout will be replaced with a “three-leg intersection.”
Demolition on Cogswell is slated for September.
The cost for the project has not been revealed publicly although a class B estimate, meaning it’s accurate to within 10 per cent, has been prepared.