HRM Staff Support of $6 Million Centralized Oval is Ad Hoc Planning
(Halifax) The HRM staff report on the Canada Games Oval recommending a single centralized skating facility on the Halifax Common is ad hoc planning, according to Friends of Halifax Common (FHC). The group questions the oval’s placement, the planning process and the price tag.
“Friends of the Halifax Common definitely support an outdoor rink, but we believe other locations such as on the Central Common or the Wanderer’s Grounds, or several outdoor skating rinks in local communities throughout HRM would be just as popular as the single giant oval on the North Common” said Peggy Cameron, Co-chair of the Friends of the Halifax Common.
The North Common is less than one-third of the remaining public open space on the Halifax Common, which extends from Cunard St. to South St., bounded by Robie, North Park and South Park Streets. All decisions made by staff and council since the Halifax Common Plan was adopted in 1994 have been inconsistent with it.
HRM staff’s January 2010 North Common Master Plan included ‘improvements’ to the North Common with the major portion of the $2.7 million budget going towards permanent infrastructure for the private, expensive mega-concerts. Reference to these already made expenditures have dropped out of site.
The temporary Canada Game’s skating oval was to be on the North Common near Robie St. at the Willow Tree intersection. Instead the oval was constructed closer to North Park St. almost on top of the proposed permanent concert venue, where it straddles two baseball fields and blocks the major walking path to and from the downtown.
“The history of poor planning decisions by HRM staff with respect to the Halifax Common, means millions of scarce tax dollars continue to be squandered,” said Beverly Miller, FHC Co-chair. “Public open space on the Halifax Common will be lost or remain under threat of commercialization as long as flavour-of-the-month is the basis for decisions” concluded Miller.
The estimate for making the oval permanent is between $4 and $6 million dollars. Between 77,000-100,000 people skated on the central oval over the 77 days it was open at an estimated cost of $410,000. No estimates have been provided for multiple outdoor skating rinks throughout HRM.
Media Contact: Sheilagh Hunt- 425-3725 Sheilagh@ns.sympatico.ca
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Also see: Spacing Atlantic Article “Skating Around the Important Questions” January 21, 2011.