Halifax’s regional councillors have gotten their first look at the proposed redesign of the Cogswell Interchange, and Waye Mason says it looks like “the way to do it right.”
On Monday morning, the executive committee will decide whether to approve the Cogswell Lands Plan for the demolition and reconstruction of the area, the proposed road network, and direct staff to begin land acquisition negotiations and any by-law amendments necessary.
“It’s fantastic, it’s exciting,” Mason, the councillor for downtown Halifax, said about the design, but added there are lots of details to be worked out and this is more of a visionary plan than a concrete one.
The recommended option for the 16-acre district includes realigning Barrington Street to act as the main entry into downtown by going along Upper Water Street, freeing up the “old” Barrington corridor for an urban greenway and providing a large open space to extend Granville Mall into a larger square.
Bike lanes, street parking, wide sidewalks, a transit block and five “Halifax-scale” mixed-use development blocks are also suggested.
“This is the idea of where we want to go, but it’s such a complex project that there will be 19 months of technical work and consultation to get us to final implementable plan,” Mason said.
The plan expects about 2,500 people would move into the housing blocks and apartments in the area, which Mason said could bump up the future population of downtown Halifax to about 4,000 people within the next 10 years alongside developments like the Roy Building.
About $750,000 has been set aside for about 19 months of detailed design work in HRM’s 2014/15 budget, so if the plan is approved Mason said the real work could begin very soon.
The report estimated 13 years before all the work is complete but Mason said that might be a “worst-case scenario” and hopes to see a much shorter timeline.
Although the work could create traffic issues downtown, Mason said he refuses to believe the city will be sunk by trying to be successful, and traffic lines are the price of prosperity.
“It’s worth it to get rid of that monstrosity, absolutely,” Mason said. “If I could go out there with some bulldozers right now, I would.”