I have to correct a mistake in Jon Tattrie’s Contributor bio on page nine of the June issue of Halifax …
At Halifax Magazine, we make no bones about the fact that we love this city. We believe Halifax’s unique location, …
A new convention centre could transform downtown Halifax—so we have to ensure we do it right
Use it or lose itBy Trevor J. Adams | Jun 1, 2012
Tags: convention centre, Halifax, Rank Inc.
I assume developer Joe Ramia cares about downtown Halifax. I assume that because the head of Rank Inc. wants to build a new convention centre, billed as a flagship development for the city. So if he cares about the downtown, I’m puzzled as to why he allows the proposed site to lie in ruin.
He’s shifted deadline after deadline for the project, as he searches for a major tenant for the new building. That’s logical—there’s not much business case in building a new office building without someone to occupy it. But in the meantime, there’s an open wound in the heart of downtown Halifax. For decades, the Chronicle Herald building stood on the Argyle Street site. Now the space is literally a gaping hole, filled with broken concrete, rubble, stagnant water and rats. So many rats.
To everyone who lives here, it’s a symbol of development delayed—another dream project that doesn’t seem to live up to its promise. To neighbours, it’s an eyesore they can’t escape. To visitors, it’s an awful memory of Halifax. Halifax has various “unsightly property” bylaws but, as of press time, no one seems to be doing anything to make Ramia clean up the property. But his obligations aren’t just legal—he has a moral obligation to Halifax. The proposed development is one of Halifax’s most important in recent memory. The property is in the very heart of the downtown, a stone’s throw from Province House, Citadel Hill and Halifax Harbour.
We’ve been told repeatedly by developers and boosters that this is critical for Halifax. So why let the site sit there untended, sapping the morale of the community, looking more ruinous and less likely to be developed each day? Doing something, anything (beyond one small installation project by a local artist last winter) to beautify it would be a wonderful show of community spirit and a boon to the neighbourhood.
Even if the developer feels he doesn’t have to do this, he should. His city needs it, and it’s the right thing to do.
We’re delighted to have intern Emilie Squires from the Centre for Arts and Technology working with us on this issue. She designed the illustration for this cover, with Chris Benjamin writing the accompanying story, “Halifax reads.” He explores the wealth of literary societies and groups for Halifax—plenty to inspire your summer reading. Also in this issue, Hilary Beaumont returns with “The curse of Africville.” This story looks at how the legacy of Africville continues to shape North End Halifax, and why the sale of the St. Pat’s-Alexandra building means so much to the community.
Due to a fact-checking error, the closing date for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Rosenberg exhibition was incorrect on page 19 of our May 2012 issue. Rosenberg closes on June 10. Halifax Magazine regrets the error.