FHC to HRM Community Planning & Economic Develoment Standing Committee

The Wanderers Grounds was fully used by amateur players like this QEHS football team (2015) before HRM paid hundreds of thousands for field upgrades, lights and on-going utility/maintenance for a professional private for-profit soccer team takeover.

Dear HRM CPED Committee Members:
Re- Wanderers Grounds – FHC Comments
FHC’s FOIPOP information received Sept 11and attached below shows that the Wanderers Grounds was used almost exclusively by Derek Martin/SEA activities with virtually nothing for amateur players. This is similar to two previous FOIPOPs. Martin/SEA private-for-profit stadium is consistently shutting out amateur players year after year.
ARG-23.24-00118 – Response Letter 00118 – Responsive Record (In Full)

HRM’s 2017 staff report wrote:◦ The Wanderers Grounds was fully used to its full capacity (75% due to poor field conditions) by amateur players—football, touch football, rugby, frisbee, soccer, lacrosse- kids to adults, all genders and all amateur players. 
◦ A professional soccer team if successful would need to find another location to continue.
◦ No park space was to be lost if this trial ‘pop-up’ stadium was successful
◦ The Wanderers Grounds would be part of the Halifax Common Master Plan consultation but HRM staff steadfastly refused to include the Wanderers Grounds/Wanderers Block in any and all public consultation/engagement
◦ Martin/SEA temporary ‘pop-up stadium’ was to be removed at the end of each season but HRM changed the contract to let his stadium and stuff stay so it was never removed. 


In preparation for the private club’s venture
• HRM used ~$800,000 – $1million of public tax dollars to pay to upgrade the Field, for lights, scoreboard etc. HRM continues to pay on-going utilities. 
• The initial field fee was $1200/game, subsequently $1400, $2400 and now $2600. 
• The land is Halifax Common land given ‘to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.’
• The value of the land is irreplaceable (St Pat’s was sold a few years ago for $37m), essentially Martin/SEA is looking for a land donation to a private company, off loading the capital cost of land acquisition to the public.
• Bill Black’s comments on a 2011 Stadium study are relevant; money spent would be spent in any case and generate just as much economic activity and tax revenue, not because there is a stadium. https://newstartns.ca/2011/11/29/stadium-studies-phase-2/

HRM’s Centre Plan will increase the population of the Halifax Peninsula by thousands but it isn’t adding new green or play space. 

Less than 20% of the Halifax Common remains as public open space. Covid showed us how important access to public parks and green space is for our health and well-being.

On behalf of Friends of the Halifax Common, I respectfully request that you do not extend the private-for-profit use of the Wanderers Field, historically used and now needed more than ever for amateur players and public good. 

Thank you,
Howard Epstein 
Director, Friends of Halifax Common