The Big Build

Shannon Park rebuild compared to other projects around the world

The Shannon Park Big Build may be an unusually large project for Nova Scotia, but we can learn from similar projects completed around the world.

From Sweden to Bedford, people are figuring out new ways to build cities that work for residents

The Shannon Park Big Build may be an unusually large project for Nova Scotia, but we can learn from similar projects completed around the world — and one project just across Halifax Harbour.

Here's a look at some of them. 

Glasgow Harbour

Glasgow Harbour in Scotland is ten years into a major redevelopment. (McAteer Photograph)
  • Where: Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Size: 52 hectares.
  • Status: In development since 2005.
  • History: Area of the city's waterfront that declined with the fall of Scotland's shipbuilding industry.
  • What: Glasgow Harbour is the $2.5-billion redevelopment of the west end of the Glasgow waterfront. Though two phases of housing have been completed, the planned shopping district has yet to be built.

There are plans for a block of massive rental towers, which have been widely criticized for their design and size. More than a third of the land is devoted to open public space and the project has about three kilometres of waterfront walkways. The area's also the location for the city's new Riverside Museum, a tribute to the country's transportation history.  

Western Harbour

Western Harbour in Malmo, Sweden, features vacuum systems that collect waste underground. That keeps garbage trucks off the streets. (Courtesy
  • Where: Malmo, Sweden.
  • Size: 141 hectares.
  • Status: Mid-development.
  • History: Former industrial park.
  • What: Western Harbour is also known as the City of Tomorrow and is celebrated around the world as a great example of sustainable urban development. It has been under transformation for about two decades.

Most houses have access to vacuum systems that collect waste underground so garbage trucks don't need to drive into residential streets. The area's designed so people can work, go to school and shop all within walking distance from home. It's a huge project, with plans for 11,000 homes, 17,000 jobs and 15 pre-schools.


Pleasantville, N.L., is turning a military base into a residential area. (Courtesy Canada Lands Company)
  • Where: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Size: 26 hectares.
  • Status: In development.
  • History: Former U.S. and Canadian military base. A new military station has been built outside Pleasantville.
  • What: Pleasantville is a new residential area near downtown St. John's. It's close to a golf course, has views of Quidi Vidi Lake and includes an innovative stormwater management system that filters water through ponds before it flows into the nearby river.

It's being promoted as "the middle of everywhere." There are 958 residential housing units planned, which will be a mix of townhouses, single family homes, apartment or condo buildings, as well as a large assisted-living complex and 5,800 square feet of commercial space.

South Works Lakeside

South Works Lakeside in Chicago may one day house the presidential library for Barrack Obama. (Courtesy The Burnham Plan Centennial)
  • Where: South Chicago, U.S.
  • Size: 190 hectares.
  • Status: In development.
  • History: Former site of U.S. Steel's South Works manufacturing plant, which closed in 1992.
  • What: The Chicago Lakeside Development is a massive project that's expected to take up to 45 years to complete. There have been concerns about the scale of the project, with nearly 14,000 housing units and 20 million square feet of retail space planned.

It's the possible site of the Obama presidential library, which would be a major draw to the area. It's promoted as sustainable development, with plans for a 32-kilometre trail and a new commuter rail line. Energy sources for the buildings will a mix of wind, solar, natural gas and biofuels.  


Nordhavnen in Denmark will take 50 years to complete its 'five-minute city.' (Courtesy
  • Where: Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Size: 360 hectares.
  • Status: In development.
  • History: Former industrial harbour.
  • What: Nordhavnen is a 50-year project. Last year a new tunnel and metro link were built to connect the area with the rest of the city.

It's promoted as a "five minute city," where people will be able to work, shop and get to public transit within five minutes of any point in the district. Housing is planned for 40,000 people and workplaces for another 40,000.

East Village

East Village in Calgary hired a writer to live in the area under redevelopment. They hope it'll encourage people to move to the area. (Courtesy
  • Where: Calgary, Alberta.
  • Size: 20 hectares.
  • Status: In development.
  • History: One of Calgary's oldest neighbourhoods, East Village became one of the city's most rundown, highest-crime places. In the 1940s, it was officially designated Calgary's Skid Row.
  • What: Calgary's East Village is in the midst of a dramatic transformation. Construction on the city's Central Library has just begun in the district and it will become one of the area's most important attractions.

Two kilometres of river walkways have been built, featuring outdoor furniture and art installations.

Calgary's not a city with a long history of gentrification, so the idea of moving to East Village has been slow to take. This summer, in an effort to lure prospective residents to the East Village, the city's land corporation hired a local writer to live rent free in the neighbourhood for a year.

In return she'll tweet, write and talk about living there.

Seton Ridge

Seton Ridge in Bedford will turn the former convent grounds into a new mixed-use community. (Courtesy South West Properties )
  • Where: Bedford, N.S.
  • Size: 26 hectares.
  • Status: In planning.
  • History: Former institutional lands of Sisters of Charity. The site is behind Mount Saint Vincent University.
  • What: This land is being developed by South West Properties. The company plans a mix of housing, including multi-unit buildings and single family homes.

The company's also planning commercial space with a grocery store and restaurants. An official with South West Properties says the area will be a walkable community that dovetails with the surrounding neighbourhoods.

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