Honour the Mi’kmaq with the name “Black-duck Pool” —Forget about sponsorship or charging kids money

HRM Mayor and Council approved selling branding/sponsorship for the

Children playing in pool at Central Common. The location has historically been referred to as Black-duck Pond by Mi’kmaw. That name is better than a brand!

new central common swimming pool building.  But FHC proposes that instead, HRM call the pool its historic Mi’kmaw name —Black-Duck Pool and commemorate this summer’s North American Indigenous Games. FHC opposed both HRM Parks and Recreation plan to make $100,000 on user fees and plan to charge $100,000 for naming rights for the new Halifax Common pool.

Public Consultation: Unfortunately, there was no public consultation on either of these proposed money takes even though, as per your direction following the recommendation of the HRM Community Planning and Economic Development standing committee, HRM staff are meant to be undertaking further public consultation since February 2022.

Pocket Change Compared to Health Values or HRM expenditures: The amounts that HRM proposes to make is small relative to the health value of kids’ recreational play. It is also small relative to other ways HRM could economize. For example a 2015 CBC article says that the rent for HRM’s Citadel High recreational space is 7% of operational costs for the building but that 9,500 square feet is unusable because there is no elevator to the upper floors. That year HRM paid $91,087.48. So roughly every two years HRM throws away at least $100,000 on unused rented space; the same amount it hopes to recoup from charging kids or from branding the building. This amount is also small relative to the $1million HRM gave for the recent World Junior Hockey Championship.

User fee: We ask that you not approve charging kids money for splashing or swimming at the new Central Common pool. There are many reasons. Swimming has always been free at this location for decades. Kids using this recreation space are not members of private clubs such as the Y or the Waegwoltic. The Halifax Peninsula does not have any lakes or supervised public beaches.

Naming rights/Sponsorship: We request that HRM not sell naming rights/sponsorship for the new pool building. Again, there are several reasons. The facility was built with public money.

The budget amount does not include the value of the land, which was freely taken by HRM. To name or brand a building on the Halifax Common, gifted ‘to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as common, forever’ is inappropriate.

Instead FHC proposes that HRM call the pool its historic Mi’kmaw name —Black-Duck Pool and commemorate this summer’s North American Indigenous Games: Accounts by Ruth Holmes Whitehead tell us that in 1800-“Mrs. Andrew Paul (born ca 1831), of Tufts Cove, Dartmouth, now about 84 years of age (in 1915), says her grandfather Toney trapped beaver with wooden dead-falls at Black-Duck Pond (Egg Pond) on the flat part of the Commons at Halifax,”[i] And in 1832-“Old Ben Morris, a blind Micmac [born ca 1818], said that on the Halifax Common, when he was young, there was a quantity of White Pine and red Oak, and he used to shoot ducks at the Black-duck pond (Up-kuch-coom-mouch way-gad-die)”[ii

Good process achieves good outcome: We support the public pool and ask that you not mischaracterize our letter to conclude that we are against the project. Previously, we have written several times to suggest ways that HRM could have reduced costs on this project and increased green space. Our hope always is to have the best process and best outcomes for decisions made for the Halifax Common.

Thank you.

Peggy Cameron, for

Friends of Halifax Common

1. (Whitehead, R. (1991, Nimbus-p.184) The Old Man Told Us, Excerpts from Mi’kmaw History 1500-1950)

2. (Ibid p. 209)