The Halifax Common was laid out under the authority of Lieutenant Governor John Belcher.
- 1762, June 8
Charles Morris registers the plan outlining the Halifax Common on land described as “rocky, swampy and unsuitable for cultivation.”
- 1763, July 30
King George III grants the 235 acres of common land “for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax forever.”
- Unnamed roads are built to delineate the western and northern boundaries of the Halifax Common.
Mrs. Andrew Paul, (age 84 in 1915) of Tufts Cove, Dartmouth recounts how her grandfather Toney trapped beaver with wooden dead-falls at Black-Duck Pond (Egg Pond). Her father Joe Toney (died at 102), was the last man to kill a Moose near the Pond.
Spring Garden Road is extended to meet the western boundary of the Halifax Common. Lots are leased to private citizens and the loss of Common lands begins.
Officials grant the12 acre Garrison Grounds, on the western side of the Citadel to the military for slope protection.
The city gives Camp Hill Hospital property to the military in exchange for Fort Massey Cemetery lands.
The city grants 5.5 acres, rent-free to the Royal Horticultural Society. These lands form the south half of today’s Public Gardens.
The City deeds Fort Massey land to the Roman Catholic Church (Queen & Church Streets). Holy Cross Cemetery is established.
Camp Hill Cemetery is established (Summer, Jubilee, Robie & a line one block north of Spring Garden Road) to replace the Old Burying Ground (1749).
A General Hospital is built on the South Common, the beginning of the habit of institutional land grants.
City of Halifax and the War Department make an agreement to fence off the North Common for military purposes including mounted and marching drills.
The Poor Asylum is built.
- Wanderer’s Amateur Athletic Club (W.A.A.C.) leases what becomes the Wanderer’s Grounds.
The School for the Blind is Built (South Park at South Streets).
Halifax City Council authorizes the selling of lots on Spring Garden Road to encourage suitable private development without public cost.
The Public Gardens is established by the city and includes the lands granted previously to the Royal Horticultural Society (1837).
Freshwater Brook piped and covered for sewage.
- An Exhibition Building is built (Tower Road).
Dalhousie College (Forrest Hall) is built (University Avenue at Robie Street).
(map detail) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Map_of_Halifax_c._1890.JPG
Hart House is built (Summer St)
All Saints Cathedral is built on the Exhibition Building site (Tower Road at College Street)-under time and under budget creating a legacy of maintenance problems.
A fire station is built on University Avenue at Robie Street.
Camp Hill hospital is built (Robie & Jubilee)
The Grace Maternity Hospital is built (Summer Street & University Avenue).
Queen Elizabeth High School is built.
The North Common is used by the Halifax Harness horse Racing Club.
The Vocational School is built on the east side of Bell Road.
The Victoria General hospital is built (South and South Park Streets).
The city sells land to CBC (TV) on Bell Road despite public opposition.
The Centennial Project (proposed by the Recreation & Playgrounds Commission) removed the horse race track, constructed ball diamonds, landscaping, paths and Centennial Fountain.
Sir Charles Tupper medical building is built on Dalhousie’s Forrest Campus (University Ave.)
The Central Common is developed for the Canada Games with lighted softball diamond, tennis courts and the Pavilion.
The Nova Scotia Museum is built (Summer & Bell)
The Abby Lane Hospital is built (Jubilee).
Halifax School for the Blind (South and South Park) is demolished. A public hearing proposes a “Park within a Park” design by Peter Kynstra Landscape Architects Ltd as part of the VG Hospital main entrance redevelopment. In exchange for a landscaped park with 200 trees and 200 parking places, walking paths and lawns the VG receives permission to close Tower Road between South and University.
Dalhousie sells the Hart House to United Equities. Over 18,000 citizens sign a petition but fail to stop United Equities from demolishing the building and a row of Victorian houses on Summer Street to build the Summer Garden highrise apartment.
The Halifax City Charter is changed to permit Grand Prix auto racing on the perimeter of the North and Central Common (included a paving a strip on the Common between Cogswell Street and Bell Road) and charging of admission despite public opposition.
The New Grace Maternity Hospital is built (University to South). The old site is loaned to Dalhousie for 5 years for use as a parking lot in exchange for demolishing the hospital. It is expected to be returned to the Halifax Common.
Halifax City adopts Halifax Common Plan, developed after extensive public consultation. Basic tenets are to retain public open land, recapture public land and not lose public land. It is ignored.
The new Halifax Infirmary opens (Robie/Bell) ignoring research indicating if there is need for hospital capacity it is outside of the peninsula.
VG Hospital bulldozes the scented garden that commemorated the School for the Blind and gains 12 new parking places.
- Friends of Halifax Common founded by Peggy Cameron and Beverly Miller.
- A September Rolling Stones concert held on the North Common – poor attendance records are kept and the published figure of 50,000 is now acknowledged to be inflated. The concert begins a trend spurred by a competition with Moncton, NB, of hosting concerts that significantly damage the North Common and interfere with free and unfettered access preceding, during and post concerts for months. Real costs to municipality for Rolling Stone concert (police, fire, street inspection, street closures) of up to $150,000 are not revealed.
HRM signs MOU with Events Halifax (Eh!): concerts of +40,000 may be held on the North Common; < 10,000 in the Metro Centre; and 10,000-30,000 on the Garrison Ground.
- HRM trades 2 parcels of land including Queen Elizabeth High site for 30% less land from the province, and owes the province $1.9 million. The swap includes: plans to widen the south side of Bell Road adjacent to QEHS by 38 feet; and, HRM receives promise of 3m green space along the South Park St. side of the former School for the Blind site (now the VG parking lot) a substantially smaller commitment than made at the public meeting in 1984 (see 1984 entry)
- Capital Health’s Keith Richie and FHC facilitate development of the Urban Garden (5-year commitment.)
- HRM advances Power Promotional Events $950,000 through Metro Centre account for Keith Urban Country Rockfest. 11,853 In attendance (30,000 reported)- loan re-paid.
- NS government guarantees $3.5 million artist fee for Paul McCartney concert. ~26,500 attend (50,000 reported)-loan repaid through ticket sales.
- NS Department of Tourism grants $300,000 and loans $300,000 to Power Promotional Events (PPE) through Trade Centre Ltd. Loan is not repaid. HRM contributes $150,000 in municipal services. (Total cost $750,000)
- PPE receives $2.4 million for KISS concert through Metro Centre account. Loan is repaid.
- Newly elected Dexter government stops all offers of provincial assistance for concerts.
Paul McCartney concert has a paid attendance of 26,500 (reported attendance-50,000). The KISS concert has a paid attendanc of 21,420 (reported attendance 40,000). HRM and TCL being questionable accounting practices to cover concert costs.
FHC organizes Chalk Around the Common (4km) as 350.org activity to raise attention to global climate change with the Common as a metaphor
- HRM advances PPE $1.8 million through Metro Centre for Halifax Rocks and Country Rockfest concerts. Loan is repaid.
”Halifax Rocks” Black Eyed Peas concert: 8,362 tickets sold; (Kidd Rock Cancels). “Country Rocks” Alan Jackson concert: ~10,000 tickets sold. Total loss to HRM: ~$360,000.
- Dalhousie announces new Brain Repair Centre on the site of the former Grace Maternity Hospital.
- HRM holds public meeting to present plan for temporary Oval at the Willow Tree corner of the North Common and commit $1.3 million in improvements to the North Common.
- Halifax hosts Canada Winter Games. The temporary skating Oval is located on the southeast quadrant of the North Common.
- HRM announces plans for a permanent Oval – “improvement” money is spent on the Oval. FHC presents information that a permanent Oval on the Central Common which produces enough waste heat for 750 homes could heat several public buildings (Citadel High, Capital Health, Nova Scotia Museum, CBC).
- The temporary Oval is removed and replaced with the permanent Oval. Emera has 10-year naming rights for the Emera Oval for $500,000.00.
- FHC asks the provincial government for legislative protection for the Halifax Common. The province says HRM knows best. (The province had recently legislated protection of the Dartmouth Common.)
- HRM offers tender for Molson Canadian Plaza .http://www.gov.ns.ca/tenders/pt_files/tenders/P12-154.pdf to support the Emera Oval.
- HRM obtains a legal opinion that buildings on the Common are illegal and it must have an amendment to the charter. It asks the provincial government for permission to build the support building for the Emera Oval.
- Solidarity Halifax holds re-naming contest for Emera Oval
- FHC plans Halifax Common Festival-250 to mark the 250th anniversary (1763-2013)
- * Sources:
Bousquet, T. (2012, 2013): The Coast
City of Halifax, (1992). Halifax Common Background Report;
City of Halifax (1994) Halifax Common Plan;
Markham, S.E. (1980): An Investigation of the Development of the Common of Halifax, NS 1749-1979;
Noselski, K. (2012): Exploring the Potential for Sustainable Development in the Halifax Common, Dalhousie University;
Van Horne, R. (Jan-Feb 2013, p 41): “On Thin Ice”, Halifax Magazine;
Whitehead, R. (1991, Nimbus-p.184) The Old Man Told Us, Excerpts from Mi’kmaw History 1500-1950 (Mrs. Andrew Paul reference) .