Postpone Pop-up Stadium Decision, Complete Halifax Common Masterplan

The Halifax Common grant in 1763 was for 235 acres ” to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax as Common, forever.” This entire area is to be considered for planning purposes as per the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.

Dear HRM Mayor and Council

Re: Request to postpone decision on Private-for-profit stadium on Halifax Common’s Wanderers’ Grounds until completion of on-going Halifax Common Master Plan Consultation.

Presently HRM is in the midst of a public consultations for the Halifax Common’s Master-plan, a process which began in the December 2017. The consultant team, Upland Studios, CoLab and HTFC, are undertaking a range of opportunities for public feedback to help inform the creation of the Halifax Common Plan as per the attached map. In fact, this Wednesday, April 25th, the 3rd of five public consultations will be held.

At present less than 20% of the 235-acre Halifax Common remains as public open space. The draft Centre Plan intends to add up to 35,000 citizens to the Peninsula but does not plan for additional public green space or parks. We need to keep this important civic space available for public use. Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) therefore requests that the decision to sign a contract for a private pre-fab pop-up stadium on the Wanderers’ Grounds be deferred until the Masterplan is finished.  We stress that the Masterplan is for the entire Halifax Common as per the direction of the 1994 Plan (see attached map).

FHC’s concerns about the proposed agreement for a pre-fab 3,000 – 6,000 seat stadium with its ~60+ port-a-potties are on-going. Despite HRM’s rush to accommodate the enterprise of project proponent and private businessman Derek Martin of Sports Atlantic, he has so far failed in his intention to host two events in 2017 on the Wanderers’ Grounds and to procure a professional soccer team by 2018. FHC believes this is a good opportunity to press pause on the process.  
As is always the case with the FHC, our hope is that your focus and that of HRM staff remain on the bigger picture; to develop an integrated Master Plan for the entire Halifax Common as committed to by the city of Halifax in 1994. The priority is to hear from citizens , not follow the lead of a developer.

We believe the Mayor and council are misled in believing that the developer is not asking for any contribution from HRM. The private proponent is asking for the long-term contribution of the Wanderer’s Grounds, a prime parcel of land on the Halifax Common. The developer is clear it is his intention to use his pop-up project to determine if the site works as a permanent venue. We suggest that HRM analyze the value of the Wanderers’ Grounds relative to the anticipated sale price for the former St Pat’s High School site, a parcel of land that is a similar size and centrally located.

At present the Wandererʼs Grounds’ field is nearly fully subscribed to capacity for use by amateur players of all ages who pay for field use. Any under-use of this important civic space is because it has not been properly maintained, a situation recently remedied by HRM’s considerable expenditures on improving the field and new lighting. According to HRM’s staff report the Stadium proposal favouring a professional team would take away at least 20% of present public use, all to entertain passive spectators to make a private profit. Now that the field is fully functional thanks to public tax dollars, it is appropriate that it remain fully available for on-going public use and enjoyment. Household entertainment budgets will be spent in any case.

As previously suggested HRM should not agree to the first and only unsolicited project idea for a possible stadium. A better process would be for HRM to issue an RFP with criteria based on previous HRM stadium ideas. We do not object to the business venture, we object to the location. And we object to the failure to take into consideration the input of the public and their needs and interests as reflected through the over-arching guidance of a Halifax Common masterplan.

We again ask that HRM staff be directed to prepare an RFP for a temporary stadium site within the whole of HRM, but not on the Halifax Common. This RFP should give better consideration for a site near where the bulk of HRM’s population lives, that is better served by public transit, parking and road access, and that if successful could be able to be made permanent or expanded. Some possibilities might include Exhibition Park, Burnside, Bayer’s Lake or Dartmouth Crossing.

Please respect your own planning process and do not continue with ad hock decisions that undermine the interests of the Common, HRM and your citizens.


Peggy Cameron
 and Beverly MIller
Co-Chairs, Friends of Halifax Common
EC: Friends of Halifax Common