The 235 acres of common land that King George III granted in 1763 “for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax forever,” includes all the land bordered by Robie and North/South Park Streets between Cunard and South Streets. Originally the predominant uses were as a military ground, for public grazing & wood, and as public open space.
Over the next two and a half centuries, public institutions were added to the common as these were seen as appropriate public uses. Today much of this land is occupied by the hospitals, CBC television studios, Queen Elizabeth High School, the new Citadel High, Camp Hill Cemetery, Dalhousie’s Carleton campus, the Public Gardens and Victoria Park, the Museum of Natural History, All Saints Cathedral, etc.
What Happened? In the early years the land was considered a bit of a wasteland and over the years using it for institutions and selling parcels to private owners seemed like a positive civic step.
Did you know that the Halifax Common is a fraction of the size it was at the turn of the century? The lack of appreciation of the need for green space allowed the land to be been assigned other uses over the years including hospitals, schools and other public and private institutions. It’s time to halt, or even reverse, that trend.
Preserving and expanding open space as the population grows is essential. It is estimated that 15-20 000 additional people will live on the Halifax Peninsula by 2030. The Common, at the heart of the Peninsula, can continue to provide vital “breathing space” for present and future residents and for those who work and visit here.
Halifax Regional Municipal Council can be constantly reminded of its obligation to The Common as required by the 1994 Common Plan.