The municipality has unveiled its preferred concept for a new park on the former rehab lands in Cole Harbour.

The 20.4-hectare property between Bissett Road and Bissett Lake is the site of the former Halifax County Rehabilitation Centre. That facility closed in 2002, and HRM took ownership of the property. It was later used as a film location for the Trailer Park Boys and other productions, and then HRM remediated the site.

In 2019, the municipality built a trail through the property, connecting to the network on the other side of Bissett Lake. Council directed staff to consider the property for a new off-leash dog park in 2020.

The municipality collected public feedback on the site in 2021, and developed a park plan. Staff are bringing that plan to council’s Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee on Thursday.

Planning for ‘passive and active recreational uses’

“The Rehab Lands Park Plan suggests developing the park with separate activity zones for passive and active recreational uses,” landscape architect and project lead Carolle Koziak Roberts wrote in the report to the committee.

Through public consultation, the municipality developed three concept plans. Those were: “a place to play,” “a place to learn,” and “a place to unplug.”

“The concept that generated the most interest focused on developing the park as a fun destination that complements other parks in the area and includes day use activities such as picnicking, disc golf and access to the lake,” Koziak Roberts wrote.

A map with a legend above shows the plan for the rehab lands.
The preferred concept plan for the park (right click and open in a new tab for detail). Credit: HRM

Some of the site would be left as is, especially the steep slope running down to Bissett Lake. But the plan calls for a network of multi-use paths, and features like look-offs, a meditative labyrinth, a fenced-in off-leash dog park, a nine-hole disc golf course, mountain biking skills trails, and a sledding hill for the winter.

Along the shore of Bissett Lake, the municipality would use an old pump house foundation to create a pier to launch kayaks and canoes.

To facilitate access to the site, the municipality proposes two parking lots. One of those would have room to expand, and could include water and washroom facilities.

Depending on budget approval, detailed design and phased construction could start in 2024.

At either end of the site, the municipality could cleave off some of the land to sell.

The motion before the committee on Thursday is a recommendation to council to adopt the plan, approve the dog park, and consider selling off the parcels at the ends of the site.

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. At a time when we are promoting public transit there are NO plans or recognition of a public transit hub. There is no recognition of the need for a transit connection.
    At the planning stage there is a need to figure out how users can access the park by public transit