Nova Scotia·Updated

Halifax's Cogswell revamp heralded as ambitious 'city-building' project

The Cogswell District project will reflect the "aspirations" of Halifax as a place valuing diversity, accessibility and green energy, Mayor Mike Savage said during the project's official launch on Tuesday.

Construction to begin in coming months; interchange will be replaced by housing, urban square

Proposed redevelopments for the Cogswell District will include more green space. (Halifax Regional Municiaplity)

The Cogswell District project will reflect the "aspirations" of Halifax as a place valuing diversity, accessibility and green energy, Mayor Mike Savage said during the project's official launch.

Savage discussed the next steps Tuesday morning at Granville Mall, a streetscape that will eventually become the gateway to a new Granville Park that he said will be the "accessible, urban square" in the heart of downtown.

The project will see a new 6½-hectare neighbourhood built where the Cogswell Interchange now stands, designed to connect downtown with the city's north end and waterfront.

It is "the largest, most ambitious city-building project in the history of our municipality," Savage said during his remarks after a blessing from Mi'kmaw elder Alan Knockwood.

The new area will include much-needed housing density, including affordable housing, Savage said, for about 2,500 people. There will be four new parks, paths for bikes and pedestrians, as well as a transit hub.

It will also support a system that supplies renewable energy from the Halifax Water wastewater treatment facility, Savage said. The "unique" process to heat and cool buildings within the district is a piece of the city's climate action plan.

More than 500 trees will line the paths and add to the urban forest, Savage said, while the entire district will "strive" for Rick Hansen gold certification in accessibility.

Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotian culture and heritage will be showcased throughout the district in public art and storytelling, Savage said.

The project will also deliver community benefits, like measures to ensure diversity in the construction workforce, subcontractors and suppliers.

Mayor Mike Savage says the Cogswell project construction will begin in the spring of 2022. (Robert Short/CBC)

Marcus James of 902 ManUp, a non-profit addressing solutions to violence and promoting self-empowerment within the Black community, said the project is a "special moment in history."

The Cogswell project brings opportunities for the Black community, which he said has been contributing to the province's success for 400 years.

"We really look forward to working with other diverse communities on this project. It's important that our voices are heard," James said. "This is a huge opportunity for us to turn a corner, to address some of those systemic barriers that we only know so well."

Marcus James, a founder of 902 ManUp, says the Cogswell project is a historic opportunity for the African Nova Scotian community. (Jill English/CBC)

Construction will begin this winter and wrap up some time in the fiscal year 2025-2026, Savage said.

In the coming months, utilities will start to move their infrastructure and project lead Dexter Construction will create a base in the middle of the area. Bypass roads will also be established by spring, with two modifying north-south traffic through the construction site, and one going east-west.

"Make no mistake, this is a massive project," Savage said.

There will be a new mobile app rolled out to allow for communication and updates about the project, Savage said, and more opportunities for public input on details as the project unfolds.

The project will cost about $122.6 million, much of which will be recovered through the sale of land and property tax, Savage said.

The price tag recently went up from Dexter's original bid of  $95.7 million. The increase "is primarily due to the influence of inflation and higher construction costs since the time of the original project estimate," according to a recent staff report.

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