NYC planners see 'huge opportunity' in Halifax's Cogswell interchange

An American urban design firm hired to review the redevelopment plans for the Cogswell Interchange took part in a Halifax conference on Monday entitled The Art of City Building.

Company to meet with HRM this week, review coming mid-November

A New York company was hired by a coalition of Halifax organizations concerned about the city's proposal for the 6.5-hectare site. (The Canadian Press)

An American urban design firm hired to review the redevelopment plans for the Cogswell interchange took part Monday in a Halifax conference entitled The Art of City Building.

"The Cogswell project is a huge opportunity to fix a mistake," said Julia Day of Gehl Studio.

The New York City company was hired by a coalition of Halifax organizations concerned about the city's proposal for the 6.5-hectare site. The coalition is made up of 23 groups including the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. The street grid has already been approved by regional council, but details of the parks, bike lanes and transit hub are still being worked on.

Since it could take a decade to complete the redevelopment, Day thinks some long-range planning is needed, including what would happen if trucks from the Port of Halifax no longer need to use the route through the Cogswell district.

"It is a real need that has to be accommodated right now, but are the trucks going to be there? I don't know the answer, but I think it's definitely worth exploring," said Day.

Need for well-designed public spaces

Day plans to meet with officials from Halifax Regional Municipality about the Cogswell project on Tuesday. Gehl Studio should have a review ready by mid-November.

Planners and researchers from Amsterdam, Stockholm and Ashville, N.C., all talked about the need to design good public spaces at the Art of City Design conference.

One of the organizers said the different perspectives will help broaden the conversation about projects like Cogswell.

"Bringing in some different approaches is a good way to get people talking," said TJ MacGuire, an urban planner with Develop Nova Scotia. "What is the experience of Cogswell? That's still very much on the table."

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About the Author

Pam Berman

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Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca