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16-hectare park in Cole Harbour one step closer to reality

By Joe Thomson Apr 20, 2023 | 4:39 PM

Boris Kasimov / CC

Cole Harbour residents just got one step closer to a new park getting built in their community.

A standing committee has passed a motion to recommend the plan for a new park on the rehab lands on Bissett Road to Halifax Regional Council.

The area used to be home to Halifax County Rehabilitation Centre, which operated from the 1940’s until 2002. Since the facility closed, the buildings have been destroyed and the site has been left as a largely informal open space.

The plan for the park is to turn the area into a 16-hectare, multi-use park. The plan includes an off-leash dog area, a pier, a meditation labyrinth, a disc golf course, mountain biking trails, picnic areas, scenic lookoffs, and a sledding hill for wintertime.

Regional councilor for the district, Trish Purdy, is excited about the plan and thinks the park has the potential to be one of the best in the HRM.

“It’s beautiful, you have Bisset lake on one side and you have the ocean on the other side. It’s just lovely. I think they [city planers] did a really good job at using the land in creative ways,” said Purdy.

One issue that was brought up in the meeting concerns plans for surplus land areas on the North and South ends of the park. The plan recommends that the city sell off this surplus land, supposedly to secure money to build the park. The committee ended up voting to amend the plan to recommend that the city keep the surplus areas.

Deputy Mayor Sam Austin argued that once the city sells the land it will never get it back and further development of the land will be impossible.

One councilor, however, warned that selling the surplus lands may be in the best interest of the park’s completion.

“The concept is great, I’m just worried about how it’s going to be funded and how quickly we move forward,” said Councilor Tim Outhit.

He referenced projects such as the Bedford Highway functional plan and the Herring Cove Road functional plan as plans that were pushed through the system but lacked concrete funding. He’s worried about the rehab lands park getting held up for years n end while the city scrambles to find the money to pay for it. He also pointed to the Halifax Central Public Library, which he believes benefitted from the city selling land on Clyde Street that help fund its construction.

“I think anything that moves something forward… other than just say we want it, you know, we’re willing to sell a little land, we’re willing to pay a little more… just helps you move things forward and fast,” said Outhit.

Purdy didn’t outright disagree with Outhit’s points, but she did have questions over whether selling the surplus land would truly benefit the park.

“My concern was what guarantee do we have that surplus land revenue will even be used for that particular park? As far as I was aware, that doesn’t happen,” said Purdy.

As it stands now, the park plan will be presented to Halifax Regional Council who will vote on its approval. They will also have an opportunity to further discuss what to do with the surplus lands.


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