Fundy Gateway Master Plan

Lower Truro, Nova Scotia

Photo Credit: UPLAND, and RHAD Architects 


Research by: Nicole Brekelmans 

Edited by: Samantha Miller 

Case study compiled in 2019



Project: Fundy Gateway Master Plan

Type of Urban Strategy: Water  

Type of ProjectTourism Interpretive Centre 

LocationLower Truro, Nova Scotia / Bay of Fundy

Date Designed/Planned: 2015

Construction Completed: 2019 and ongoing

Designer: UPLAND and RHAD Architects 


The Fundy Gateway Master Plan has unique opportunities and design challenges due to its location on the Bay of Fundy, a highly dynamic coastal environment which contains the highest tides on earth. The overall goal of the Gateway Master Plan is to highlight the features of the Bay of Fundy to increase the economic and tourism potential of the site. However, while designing for a tourism hub, water plays a large role in the design and the interactions with space, through recreation, visuals, accessibility, and flooding. 

(UPLAND, n.d.) 


The implementation of pedestrian and cycling access points through trails and bridges provides more connections throughout the space while highlighting active transportation opportunities. Viewing platforms and designing with elevations in mind, provide the site and its visitors with multiple areas to view the Bay of Fundy and the Tidal Bore. Boating and walking tours also provide visitors with further information and experiences within the bay and its unique ecological and historical features. The Flooding is combated through the use of different elevations on the site, as well as dikes and levees. Each design element provides further connection of the site to its water and the coastal phenomenon.  

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


The Fundy Gateway Master Plan was initiated when the Municipality of Colchester acquired the 10-acre parcel of land that was previously the Pallister establishment along the Bay of Fundy. The design firm UPLAND later won a design competition for the Bay of Fundy site, leading the Fundy Gateway Master Plan in 2016. The Fundy Gateway Master Plan aims to transform the current site into a new visitor experience for the Bay of Fundy through a central interpretive centre and additional elements to create further conveniences for those on the site. The plan and design enhance the current ecological and historical elements of the space, allowing the site to reach its full potential.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


The area purchased and chosen for the Fundy Gateway Master Plan is a 10-acre piece of land that was previously comprised of the Pallister establishment including a hotel, restaurant, and gift shop, which was demolished in 2015. The site is located on the shore of Minas Basin, along the Salmon River in Truro, Nova Scotia. Within the site is the “bay region” which is also known as the Bay of Fundy, one of North America’s 7 Wonders. The Bay of Fundy is a highly dynamic coastal environment which contains the highest tides on earth, along with other natural processes and phenomena such as unique landforms, fossils, and important aquatic and on-land habitats. The shoreline is reinforced by a dike that drops to flat mud plains reaching until the Bay and is also adjacent to grass fields, meadows and footpaths along the embankment.

The location borders major transportation crossroads where the 102 meets the Trans-Canada Highway, resulting in 25,000 cars passing the site daily. The location also includes regional and off-road connections through the Cobequid Trail connection to Victoria Park, providing access to both vehicles, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.

Due to the location of the site, bordering a major water body and shoreline, the area has a microclimate resulting in strong northern winds during the spring, westward winds throughout the year, mild temperatures, and moderate annual precipitation. Each weather element is crucial when considering the site and the design of the Fundy Gateway. The Fundy Gateway is also located on the floodplain causing the site to be flood-prone, however, due to the high elevations of the site, the buildings and other design elements can be placed at lower flood risk areas.

The Bay of Fundy is a major tourist attraction due to the unique tidal elements, as well as containing other UNESCO heritage site, this creates a constant flow of visitors. However, the Fundy Gateway Master Plan will provide the site with necessary amenities to allow the space to reach its tourist and experiential potential and therefore development and increase the economic benefits. The site previously contained amenities such as a small tourist information centre, tables, benches, a monument and a tide chart.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.3)


The site of the Fundy Gateway Master Plan has a rich history including three distinct cultures and settlements, the Mi’kmaq, the Acadians and the British. The Mi’kmaq lived in lower Truro in 8600 BC and used the area along the Salmon River to fish and hunt. The Mi’kmaq people named Truro Wagobagitik meaning “end of the flower water.” In 1606, France claimed Nova Scotia as its own, Acadians came and created small farming villages in the Cobequid areas in the 1700s, they built and maintained dykes on marshes, and mined copper and gypsum. The villages were home to as many as 188 families by 1748, however, the villagers were forced to flee their settlement in 1755 due to the war between France and England. In 1761 the British settled in and expanded drastically after the American Revolution, therefore gaining British loyalists. The British initiated landing construction to increase trade and commercial opportunities as well as maintained farming practices and shipbuilding for further exporting potential. By 1953 the land was transformed into the Palliser establishment including the Tide View Motel, restaurant, and gift shop, providing employment to 50 people seasonally.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


The main intent of the Fundy Gateway Master Plan is to establish the region as a key provincial tourist destination. Along with this, there are more specific goals focused on providing more amenities as well as ecological, recreational, and economic opportunities such as:

- Foster inter-municipal collaboration to achieve mutual benefit and cohesive visitor experiences

- Contribute to increased Provincial tourism revenues, by motivating travel and through on-site revenue generating experiences

- Leverage and connect existing trail systems

- Interpret the Bay of Fundy tidal phenomena

- Establish a park-like waterfront setting in central Colchester

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


The design process was first initiated through a vision of the potential of the Fundy Gateway Master Plan, “The Fundy gateway will be a prominent contemporary public attraction, that will captivate travellers and local residents, immersing visitors in the Bay of Fundy experience and coastal landscape. Exploration and understanding of the region will extend out from this central destination and incremental growth in tourism will result. The Fundy Gateway will help crystalize individual travel plans and provide the amenities and services that travellers need.”

During the design process of the Master Plan, public inputs were a major driving force. The lead design firms, as well as Colchester and the Town of Truro, relied heavily on focus groups, public meetings, surveys, and draft plan presentations to make collective values clear. Such values included enhancing elements such as the tidal bore, natural systems, past cultures and history, landscape features, as well as adding elements such as collaborative events, food and dining areas, cycle amenities, tours, active linkages, and accessibility for all ages and abilities.

The collective values along with initial research provided a basis for the Master Plan and lead to the creation of guiding principles. These principles were used to create a cohesive design plan throughout the process. These principles include:

- Develop a signature attraction that will entice visitors and locals

- Seize the economic opportunities of key tourist market segments

- Align with National, Provincial and local tourism development

- Establish a point of departure for Fundy region destinations

- Capitalize on the tidal landscape

- Tell a holistic story of the tides

- Provide active experiences and exploration

- Establish a revenue generation program

- Build a place that local residents will love

The development of the design involved four design strategies, the power of 10, a constellation of spaces, past to present, and experiential space. The power of 10 design strategy focuses on placemaking at every scale, beginning at the largest scale and ending at small human scaled details. This provides the design and master plan with a cohesive framework, ensuring the space blends in with its surroundings and environment while also focusing on the human experience. The constellation of spaces focuses on the spatial arrangement of elements by basing them off of the solar system. This strategy involves all site elements to revolve around a central area, which would be the interpretive centre building. This spatial arrangement provides visitors with a main “hub” along with other elements that interact with the hub and others creating unique activities and experiences. The past to present design strategy is about creating a balance between the site’s historic, and culturally rich past with the future of the space. This will involve mixing modern architecture with vernacular traditions to give visual cues to the different time periods and styles of the area. Experiential space involves enhancing and prioritizing interactions, movement, and activities. This will be initiated through hot spots throughout the space to encourage visitor’s engagement to make the Fundy Gateway an effective destination.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


UPLAND is the first and lead design firm affiliated with the Fundy Gateway Master Plan when they won the design competition for the space. UPLAND is an interdisciplinary design firm that focuses on landscape architecture, building design, parks planning, place-making, interpretive planning, public consultation, graphic design, tourism, and business planning. UPLAND and RHAD Architects both worked on thorough and comprehensive research through interviews, meetings, and on-site evaluation. The research focused on the natural and cultural richness of the area, providing the design firms with information to highlight the unique features and elements of the space properly and efficiently.

(UPLAND, n.d.)


Master planning underway for former Palliser site – Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from

UPLAND, & RHAD Architects. (n.d.). Fundy Gateway Master Plan(Vol. 1, pp. 1-67, Rep.).

UPLAND, & RHAD Architects. (n.d.). Fundy Gateway Master Plan(Vol. 2, pp. 1-34, Rep.).

UPLAND, & RHAD Architects. (n.d.). Fundy Gateway Master Plan(Vol. 3, pp. 1-55, Rep.).

UPLAND. (n.d.). Fundy Gateway Master Plan. Retrieved June 13, 2019, from


The Fundy Gateway Master Plan is expected to make significant economic and tourism impacts within the site of the Bay of Fundy. The site is expected to attract, engage, inform, and broaden tourism with an increase of visitors by 50% and increase the overall visitor length of stay. As well, the site is estimated to generate $20 million yearling will providing 580 full-time jobs (directly and indirectly).

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.2)


The Municipality of Colchester acquiring the former Palliser property in April of 2015 helped to catalyze the development of the Bay of Fundy to expand the space’s tourism potential. The development, and later known as the Fundy Gateway Master Plan includes a partnership of Colchester and the Town of Truro, along with the design firms UPLAND and RHAD Architects. The Plan was first initiated by a Canada wide competition that UPLAND won, and the design team later expanded with the addition of RHAD Architects, an architectural firm. The Plan’s goal is to create a broad framework to enhance the ecological, historical, and recreational elements of the space, through additional amenities and design features.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


The design of the Fundy Gateway was to create multiple hubs for visitors to engage with and experience the space in a unique way. These hubs include multiple possible activities and programs such as; (1) The interpretive centre which acts as the main building on the site used for general services, visitor information, and educational activities, (2) Market village used during the week to provide local goods and foods without competing with nearby weekend farmer’s markets, (3) Trails that provide multiple connections throughout the site and nearby locations and include formal and informal seating opportunities as well as a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists to improve the site’s access, (4) A restaurant is added on site to provide visitors with local and affordable dining including a patio space for a seamless indoor-outdoor experience, (5) A viewing platform on the site creates an area for visitors to view the Bay of Fundy at an optimal elevation and space to see the full extent of the space, (6) A natural playground creates an area for children to explore and experience the space through different senses and exploration.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


The Land for the Fundy Gateway project was purchased in April of 2015 by the Municipality of Colchester. The funding for the Fundy Gateway was provided by Tourism Nova Scotia and ACOA, each provided $50,000, as well as the Town of Truro and County of Colchester providing an additional $25,000 each.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.1)


Maintenance on the site involves year-round staff to run and coordinate the interpretive centre, as well as part-time and seasonal staff for tours, landscaping, and service amenities. The maintenance and utilities budget is estimated at $5000 per month while the landscaping supplies as estimated at $6000 per year.

(UPLAND, & RHAD Architects, n.d, Vol.2)