An underutilized 2,900 square foot park in Halifax’s west end could soon be getting a makeover.
Cogswell Park, a triangular green space steps away from Quinpool Road, has long served as a muddy shortcut to the nearby grocery store.
Now, a partnership between the Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association and the Cities and Environment Unit (CEU) hopes to reimagine the green space surrounding Windsor, Parker and Welsford Streets.
The new design includes ideas like a boardwalk to connect the park, a two-level deck for programming and seating, and people-powered lights as part of an art installation by the man known as Nova Scotia’s Mad Inventor, Allan Carver.
A painted crosswalk on Windsor Street would also connect the boardwalk to the path leading to Quingate Place and the Superstore.
A Community Imagination Session took place in the park on Wednesday evening, where community members could chime in, make recommendations, or raise concerns. An initial session took place two weeks ago.
For Karla Nicholson, Executive Director at the Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association, the green space at Cogswell Park has a lot of potential.
“People don't even know the name of the park, or even where it is when I'm trying to describe it,” she said, urging the community to “reimagine it now while it's still a green space.”
Claude Laing, a member of Walk N’ Roll, a pedestrian advocacy group in Halifax, says he’s interested in “any sort of move away from the automobile and towards the human being.”
“A park without a washroom strikes me as strange,” Laing said, adding he’d like to see food trucks and an amphitheatre to attract people to the green space.
Nicholson would like to see Cogswell Park utilized for performances and events like QuinFest.
“I think it'll come to fruition,” she said. “”I'm not exactly sure how it will be funded or how many years it will take to get where we want to be, but in the end I'm hoping we have a well lit safe park with lots of amenities.”
Kieran Stepan, a community planner at the CEU focused on urban planning and design, says organizers will take the feedback from the community to inform their design. Once that’s completed, the final product will be presented to the public.
“Especially in urban areas, parks are often people's backyards,” Stepan said. “They don't have a lot of green space, whether you're in an apartment building, and this spot is surrounded by apartments and developments pending as well.”
As part of a “people-powered park,” Stepan hopes community members will not only access Cogswell Park, but also help build the design themselves.
“It's so essential for people to have places to go outside,” Stepan said. “Communities are lost when you don't have those opportunities to gather with neighbours or meet your friends.”
The reimagining plan will require additional public funding. Nicholson says the group has already applied for both provincial and federal grants, including the Healthy Communities Initiatives Grant. The project has received funding from the Association, as well as $25,000 raised by three local Councillors: Shawn Cleary, Waye Mason, and Lindell Smith. The current budget sits at approximately $45,000.
While the project will take many years, Nicholson hopes that, funded provided, the park will have lights and decking completed by Nov. 1.
More information about the reimagining can be found at here