Halifax Common

A communal conversation: the future of the Halifax Common

Second of five public meetings regarding the future of popular park held Wednesday

Participants at the public meeting on the future of the Halifax Common look at a questionnaire on Wednesday night.   Heather Norman

The Halifax Common could be getting a new pool, and the community is being asked what it should look like.

The current pool hasn’t been updated in 60 years and is largely inaccessible to older and disabled members of the public, said the organizers of a public meeting regarding the space. The pool also only allows 40 people in at a time, which makes for long waits on hot summer days.

Approximately 120 people attended the meeting in the cafeteria at Citadel High School on Wednesday night. Gathering in small groups, they used maps and questionnaires to mark which areas were most important to them and which needed the most improvement.

The groups also had the opportunity to contribute ideas for the upgraded public pool, including discussions on where to include a new splash pad area.

Sue Ellen Bradfield, 76, is hoping that the new pool will be bigger, as the older one is “just too small.”

She said the Common was meant to be “a gathering place,” so she wants it to continue being a centre of lively activity.

Organizers said the feedback from the meeting will help with the development of an overall strategy for the Common.

“(The purpose) was to get information on what people want to cherish and protect about the Common,” said Greg Woolner, lead consultant on public engagement for development of the Halifax Common Master Plan, which will help determine the space’s future.

The Common, a public park that spreads from downtown to central Halifax, was created in 1749. The Halifax Common Master Plan was started as a continuation of a plan to upgrade the park originally put in place by city council in 1994.

Participants were told to put green stickers on areas of the park they would like to see “cherished and protected.”   Heather Norman

Howard Epstein, a former City of Halifax councillor, said the Common has eroded over the years. Epstein, who was a councillor when the 1994 Common plan was adopted, said it was essentially ignored by the former city.

“I’m hoping this way we’ll get a good, updated plan, and I’m hoping that the city will pay attention to it,” Epstein said at the meeting. “The less building on the open part of the Common, the better.”

Casey Fulton came to the meeting because he has two children who use the Common year-round.

“It’s just nice to have a chance to share advice and be part of the conversation,” said Fulton.

Participants discuss what changes they would like to see at the Halifax Common.   Heather Norman

 

Some attendees didn’t find the session helpful, like David Garrett, who was disappointed because he found the discussion too directed.

“The process was too driven by a particular agenda,” he said. “They just wanted feedback on (the pool), rather than this being an open discussion.”

There will be three more public engagement sessions between March and June. Those who are unable to attend the public meetings can fill out an online survey.