Halifax's schizophrenic approach to tearing down the Cogswell Interchange | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Halifax's schizophrenic approach to tearing down the Cogswell Interchange

A new convention centre as a reason to deal with the concrete jumble apparently makes too much sense.

Halifax's schizophrenic approach to tearing down the Cogswell Interchange
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We've got a schizophrenic city government.

On the one hand, we've got city council moving forward (if slowly) with plans to demolish the Cogswell Interchange. As the staff report to this week's council meeting explains:

It is recommended that HRM Council:
1) approve the issuance of an RFP for consulting services to produce a detailed master plan for the removal and re-design of the Cogswell Interchange; and
2) instruct staff to explore the establishment of reserve Capital funding to offset future costs related to the maintenance and/or demolition and redesign of the Cogswell interchange.
But on the other hand,

a joint municipal/provincial procurement committee charged with reviewing proposals for a new World Trade and Convention Centre just rejected a proposal that included tearing down the Cogswell Interchange.

City staffer Andy Filmore, who oversees the HRM By Design effort and sat on the procurement board, told me last year that as he views it, the Cogswell lands are not to be used for immediate development, but rather will serve as a land-bank for use only after all those empty lots downtown get developed. I guess it's a sort of property price support system: the city doesn't want to put more downtown land on the market (the public Cogswell land) because it would lower the value of privately held land.

In practical terms what this means is that $600,000 in public money will be used simply to keep the Cogswell Interchange in workable condition while the city draws up a Master Plan. Then, at some mythical and unknowable date, after the private downtown property owners are assured a high price for their land, the city will spend untold tens of millions of dollars to tear down the interchange and rebuild the street grid.

The sad thing is that all of these expenditures could have been rolled into the WTCC plans and the interchange could be torn down relatively quickly, saving taxpayers millions of dollars besides.

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