Category Archives: INITIATIVES

Activist initiatives such as encouraging letter-writing. New projects. Protesting.

News 95.7 Rick Howe; Privatizing the Halifax Common

The 1886 lease for the Wanderer’s Grounds to the amateur, non-profit Wanderer’s Amateur Athletic Club for sports such as baseball, lawn bowling, rugby and snow-shoeing ended in 1959 when the city took over management of the property.

Friday June 23rd is the 254th anniversary of the granting of the 235 acre Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Halifax, as Commons forever”.

No difference to HRM Council which fast-tracked its further privatization by approving a for-profit private stadium at the Wanderers Grounds. Rick Howe interviews FHC on why this privatization is not in the best interests of the Common or the commoners.

Citizens are increasingly upset with HRM’s disregard for both their interests and the common good. About $1 million in citizens’ tax dollars is being spent to improve the Wanderers Grounds but amateur sports players will have at least 20% less field time. The developer has a stated agenda of locating a permanent sports and entertainment venue on the site. FHC is not opposed to the Stadium, just the location and it objects to yet another ad hoc decision being made before there is a Masterplan as committed to by the city of Halifax in 1994. 

 

Wanderer’s Grounds Facing Privatization

On Tuesday, June 20th Mayor Savage and Council approved the proposal for a private stadium on the public Wanderers’ Grounds. Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) have outlined our serious concerns about the bias of the City’s Staff Report and the staff’s recommendation to fast-track the approval for the pop-up stadium in a letter we delivered to City Council. In the letter, we do not object to the private-for-profit “pop-up” stadium proposal, but we do oppose the Wanderers’ Grounds as the location. See letter: 2017 FHC Mayor & Council, June stadium, staff report

Illustration of Proposed Pop-up Stadium on the Halifax Wanderers’ Grounds (a section of the publicly-owned Halifax Common)

The private stadium developer has stated that, “By two years of that three-year cycle, I think we’ll have a great idea on whether or not that site works and is there a desire for something more permanent on that site.” read more…

This important public civic space is already used to near-capacity by amateur sports players of all ages. The Stadium proposal favouring a professional team would take away at least 20% of present public use and entertain passive spectators to make a profit.

HRM Staff do not address the pro-ponent’s stated goal of having a long-term permanent stadium. Nor do they mention public tax payers have recently spent ~$ 1 million in fixing up the Grounds. Concerns about noise, parking, the effect on the area (Public Gardens, hospitals, Bengal Lancers, the Citadel, Camphill Cemetery) or the loss of citizens’ recreational space are being brushed aside.

Stadium seating for 6,000 including sixty port-a-potties, as well as shipping containers for food and alcohol are about to be approved without a Masterplan for the Halifax Common or any public consultation.

The 1994 Halifax Common Plan was a positive outcome of the collision between the for-profit, private use of the Halifax Common for the Moosehead Grand Prix and a groundswell of steadfast public unwillingness to endure that private use and its inconveniences. Comments from these documents mention that the public was fed up with how ad hoc the city was in its decisions about the common and a lack of process.

Its 2017. This makes twenty-three years of waiting for a Halifax Common Masterplan.

Contact City Hall with your opinions regarding privatization of the use of the Halifax Wanderers’ Grounds.

 

Developer Delays May 23rd Public Hearing – FHC Requests New HRM Staff Report

For the public record, FHC is calling for a new HRM report before a public hearing to consider APL’s 20 or 29 storey skyscraper is held. Inaccuracies, biases, omissions and false statements need to be corrected and the significant input by citizens be respected, otherwise the process is meaningless.

For a second time developer APL has asked to delay the HRM Public Hearing for its 20 or 29-storey highrise at Robie and Quinpool. FHC has written City Hall to request a new HRM staff report  before HRM Council holds a Public Hearing. FHC’s concerns about accuracy, bias and comprehensiveness of analyses and statements by staff and councilors are included in an executive summary to Mayor Savage, Councillors, and Chief of Planning Bob Bjerke. See PDF:
2017, May FHC Mayor & Council, new APL staff report
A second document details all 16 items of concern. See PDF:
Attachment, new APL staff report required

Citizens have been almost unanimous in their opposition to both 20 and 29-storeys but their knowledge and input are being ignored. There is no justification for the project which cannot be built under existing regulations or under the draft Centre Plan. If the HRM Staff Report is not corrected, the process is meaningless. Both the April 25th and now May 23rd dates have been cancelled at the request of the developer.

Speak or Write for the Common Good – 6pm Tues. May 23

Urgent – Tell the Mayor & Council to say “No!” to APL’s proposed 20 or 29-storey highrise at Robie & Quinpool

A Public Hearing at City Hall on Tuesday May 23rd at 6pm is your last chance to voice your concern.  APL’s proposal will be a permanent looming intrusion on the Halifax Common and neighbourhood with shadow, wind and blocked view of the sky.

This highrise cannot be legally built under the present rules nor under new draft Centre Plan rules. Do not let HRM ignore the rules and the input of hundreds of common citizens who have told them 20-storeys is not a compromise.

Please plan to attend and to tell City Hall to make a decision for benefit the Common not a private developer. If you can’t attend the public hearing please write clerks@halifax.ca

Help spread the word with social media or by printing this poster .

News 95.7, Rick Howe – “Pop-up” “Temporary” Stadium is Private & for Profit

Rick Howe talks with Peggy Cameron about why the best use of the Wanderer’s Grounds isn’t a private business person’s permanent

Halifax Common’s Wanderer’s Grounds (photo credit – Alvin Comitor)

3,000- 6000 seat stadium with 60 port-a-potties. In fact it isn’t even legal. Instead HRM needs to stay focused on the big picture – a master plan for the Halifax Common – committed to since 1994.

Wanderer’s Grounds’ private “pop-up” “temporary” Stadium Illegal

‘Pop-Up’ ‘Temporary’ Stadium on the Wanderer’s Grounds is doublespeak for ‘Pre-fab’ ‘Permanent’. Sixty port-a-potties and professional soccer league team aren’t the right fit for the Common good.

A proposed private, long-term use of Halifax Common lands is not permitted under legislation governing the Halifax Common. Nor is it considered in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan documents which emphasize that temporary events are for a “limited amount of time” or a “short period of time” and understood to not restrict “general public use and access”.

Friends of Halifax Common asks HRM Mayor and Council to do its homework before it pursues a private partnership to put a 3,000 – 6,000 person stadium on the Halifax Commons’ Wanderer’s Grounds.

They have not yet received response to either January or April 2017 letters

2017 FHC letter, Mayor & Council, CAO stadium

2017 FHC Mayor and Council, stadium

The proposal involves many questions but the larger issue is the private use of the public’s space for private profit of a private businessman. The developer’s promotional language readily adopted by HRM staff or Council such as “pop-up” and “temporary” and “small” does not apply to the project as the private business seeks a substantive long-term commitment of three years and extension to six years or more.

The proposed project also involves considerable permanent and semi-permanent infrastructure including 3,000 – 6,000 seats and sixty port-a-potties. And it wants to attract a Halifax-based professional soccer team. The sports presenter business also hopes to host other outdoor sports and entertainment uses including rugby, lacrosse, volleyball, music concerts etc.

“Its disappointing that HRM is more motivated to set up a private business on the Halifax Common than to work on its basic commitment of managing the lands for public benefit,” said Peggy Cameron, co-chair of Friends of Halifax Common. “If the Wanderer’s Grounds was in such bad shape it couldn’t be used for last year’s Rugby Tournament that’s the reason to fix it this year, its not the reason to do a side-deal with a private business,” said Cameron.

FHC has written to Councillor Waye Mason to caution him against his selective use of the 1994 Halifax Common Plan to find statements that seem supportive of such a venture but that are taken out of context. The over arching theme of the documents is that “privately sponsored events with paid admission on the Common are acceptable provided they are open to all with paid admission and the public is denied general use for only a short period of time.”

Rather than just agreeing to the first unsolicited project idea for a stadium, FHC suggests that a better process would be for the Mayor and Council to issue an RFP. That process should have criteria 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 should be able to be made permanent or expand. Some possibilities might include Exhibition Park, Burnside, Bayer’s Lake, Dartmouth Crossing.

FHC was founded in 2007 and works to ensure that space on the Halifax Common is protected as per the public’s wishes and as recorded in the 1994 Halifax Common Plan.