Group of 26 Urges HRM Council to Push for “People-First” Approach as they Consider Approval of 90 Per Cent Public Design and Next Steps of the Cogswell District Redevelopment | Ecology Action Centre

Group of 26 Urges HRM Council to Push for “People-First” Approach as they Consider Approval of 90 Per Cent Public Design and Next Steps of the Cogswell District Redevelopment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 25, 2019

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A group of 26 organizations worked together to facilitate discussions around the redevelopment of the Cogswell District to ensure that Halifax advances with the best overall urban design vision possible for the project. They urge HRM Council to ensure the public has an opportunity to reflect and give feedback prior to approval on the 90 per cent design plan of the Cogswell District redevelopment. The 90 per cent report was released on Friday, February 22, 2019, and is scheduled to be approved by HRM Council on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. They also urge that a “people-first” approach to the district will include a land use by-law process with a great deal of opportunity for additional public engagement, and the flexibility to create a building framework that enhances the design of the district.


The group urges HRM Council to give the community ample time for consideration and feedback on the 90 per cent design. Councillors will have had less than a week to read and reflect on the 90 per cent design. Their constituents will only have had four full days, before Council is asked to make a final decision. A generational project, that seeks to right a significant wrong, requires more time for consideration. The group requests that HRM Council defer making a final decision on approval on February 26 by several weeks. This will give additional time for reflection, and for Council to hear and consider feedback from their constituents. This will add no delay to the overall timeframe for commencement of demolition or initiating the Land Use By-law (LUB) process.


“Our group of 26 is pleased to see that the Cogswell District redevelopment is now at the 90 per cent stage in the design process with valuable input from public engagement sessions and the Gehl Report recommendations,” said Paul MacKinnon, Executive Director with Downtown Halifax Business Commission. “But there simply has not been adequate time for the public or Councillors, for that matter, to adequately review and digest the information. Once approval is given, the design is locked down for a construction process that goes into winter 2022. Taking a few extra weeks to ensure the community is comfortable with the design should not impact the overall timeline.” 


The group also requests that HRM Council confirm that the final project need not necessarily confirm to the current estimate that 90-93% of the cost of construction be recovered from the initial sale of land. This would allow the Land Use By-law (LUB) Process, to be much more flexible, and aim for building design excellence. 


“It is imperative, as we move into the private realm portion of the district plan (the LUB process), that the people-first design priority remains, and is not unduly constrained by an imposed narrow and short-term cost structure,” said Patty Cuttell, Executive Director with North End Business Association. “The long-term benefits of an excellent district design will prove to be economically and socially beneficial for our city for generations to come.  A new urban pedestrian-oriented neighbourhood will further raise the profile of Halifax and will itself attract investment to our city.”

The group wants the next step of the plan, the Land Use By-law process, to be a comprehensive public process, beyond what is minimally required. Similar to projects like HRM by Design and the Central Library, an iterative public process engages the community and builds excitement, and also results in a better end-project. An engaged public, working with HRM Planning professionals, will improve the potential of the district. This should be initiated soon, and the group is ready to assist in this process.


The completed Gehl recommendations report is available for download at

The Cogswell District Redevelopment 90 Per Cent Construction Design can be downloaded from the HRM website at

To join the Cogswell District conversation and for updates, follow #CogswellVision on Twitter.

List of partners involved in the discussion, which is an open group inviting broad participation:

Atlantic Developments
Breakhouse Inc.
Building Owners and Managers Association
Cities and Environment Unit
Compass Commercial Realty
Cushman and Wakefield Atlantic                                                              
Dalhousie University School of Planning
Develop Nova Scotia      
Downtown Halifax Business Commission                                                                              
Ecology Action Centre                   
Grafton Connor Group                                                                                  
Halifax Chamber of Commerce  
Halifax Cycling Coalition                                                               
Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia
HRM Apartments
Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia
It’s More Than Buses                                                                                     
North End Business Association
Our HRM Alliance
Planning and Design Centre        
RAD Consulting
Spring Garden Area Business Association                                                                              
TEAL Architects + Planners                                                                          
Turner Drake and Partners Ltd.                 
Urban Development Institute



For more information, contact:

Ivy Ho, Director of Communications

Downtown Halifax Business Commission

Tel: (902) 428-5433, Cell: (902) 430-7679


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