[Re]Presenting Halifax #6: Waterfront [Re]Visions Part 2

The [Re]Presenting Halifax series revisits historical and contemporary maps, diagrams and other interpretive readings of the Halifax region. See my first post for the full aims of this project and more information about contributing to the series.

HALIFAX – This is a continuation of last week’s post about waterfront redevelopment. Similar to the plans presented last week, this post focuses on a plan commissioned for the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission during the early 1970s.

Dubbed Harbour Plaza, this 1971 urban redevelopment plan reimagines the Dartmouth waterfront and ferry terminal. In contrast to the plans for Halifax revealed at the same time, this plan presents the redesign of the ferry terminal as a strategic urban project meant to reactivate the surrounding area. While this proposal never materialized, it shares some similar features to the new ferry terminal and Alderney Landing complex.

The waterfront site before redevelopment. The site was not only the ferry terminus, but also a terminus for the Dartmouth bus transit system.

The waterfront site before redevelopment. The site was not only the ferry terminus, but also a terminus for the Dartmouth bus transit system.

The 1971 plan consists of the main ferry terminal, including two levels of underground parking, a covered rail corridor, covered terrace and exit to ferry, two levels of office space, as well as a potential 6- to 8-storey narrow tower addition to meet future demand for office space. A large hotel is also proposed for the block bordered by Alderney Drive, Queen Street and Ochterloney Street.

Proposed ferry terminal project. This shows the lower parking level, as well as the access to the ferry level.

Proposed ferry terminal project. This image includes the optional office tower.

Ground level access from Alderney Drive, centre atrium and ferry access control.

Ground level access from Alderney Drive, centre atrium and ferry access control.

Perspectives from the ferry, from Alderney Drive and from inside the interior retail area.

Perspectives from the ferry, from Alderney Drive and from inside the interior retail area.

The proposal specifically states the objective of the City of Dartmouth to revitalize the entire waterfront area. This project represented a first phase — a strategic mixed-use transit node — that would prepare the area for future intensification of a prime piece of waterfront land. So, what happened?

Much like the Halifax waterfront, development on the Dartmouth side has has moved at a glacial pace. But with a renewed interest in Dartmouth, as evident through projects such as Founders Corner and Kings Wharf, there is a need to reflect on the role of Dartmouth in relation to Halifax, as well as within the region. Further, crucial to any successful revitalization of Dartmouth and its waterfront, is the strategic intervention into the fabric immediately surrounding Alderney Landing in an effort to re-stitch its fragmented image. How will Kings Wharf interact with the existing waterfront? What is the future for the CN railyard? For the rail-line? What potential exists in the current infrastructure and what will be needed to accommodate the influx of new residents into the area?