Halifax Council to proceed with Forum renovation plans

After being placed on the Halifax Regional Council’s back burner during the pandemic, the proposed Halifax Forum renovation is once again emerging as an agenda item.

“Where it stands now is we are going out to the public to find out what people want to do with the Halifax Forum development,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, who expects the issue to be formally presented to council by early fall. “And then we start looking at that price tag.”

A price tag that is said to be in the $81 million range.

Renaud Brossard of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said now is not the time to spend that much money on this type of project.

“We don’t think that funding a project like this is being done at the right time when people are struggling with the increasing cost of living,” said Brossard.

Forum renovations would lower seating capacity, add multi-purpose space and alter the streetscape outside of the forum complex.

“People could live there, there could be a transit hub,” said Savage. “There are a ton of different mixed used in commercial and residential possibilities. It is a large parcel of land in the middle of the city.”

One issue to consider is the fact that the Halifax Forum is almost 100-years-old. It is a city landmark and a registered heritage building.

“The city has mishandled the forum property since it was built,” said Halifax historian Blair Beed, who added the debate over what to do with the Halifax Forum has gone on for decades.

Beed said plans to renovate the facility do not meet the standard of preserving a historic property.

“The use of the word preservation or restoration on the forum project is misuse of the word,” said Beed. “It is a rehabilitation of one wall of the building and everything else is going to be destroyed.”

Beed said the Halifax Forum does require design upgrades, but he would like to see the city find a better solution.

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