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Dalhousie stops construction on new campus event centre

Labour shortages, construction costs cause a pause on Halifax skating arena project

3 min read
A construction vehicle on the site of Dalhousie's planned event centre
caption Although workers have started preparing the site of Dalhousie's new event centre, the university announced on Wednesday that construction will be paused.
Anna Mandin

Dalhousie University put a halt on construction of a new event centre on Wednesday .

The university announced plans to build the centre, including an NHL-size rink, in 2021 after tearing the old arena down in 2012.

Workers began preparing the site for construction in September, but on Wednesday Dalhousie announced the project will be paused. According to an update addressed to the university community and posted on the project’s website, the decision was based on the “current state of the construction industry,” including cost pressures and labour availability.

The release was written by athletic director Tim Maloney and Peter Coutts, the assistant vice-president of facilities management. Maloney declined an interview but Dalhousie spokesperson Janet Bryson said in an email that “We will keep a close eye on developments in the marketplace and will move forward as we are able with the next project elements.”

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Labour shortages and building costs

Labour reports suggest there is high demand for construction workers in the region.

A report released by Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service, said there is a “very high demand for construction labour in the Atlantic provinces.”

The report said the vacancy rate for jobs in the construction industry in Atlantic Canada has increased from 4.4 per cent to 5.8 per cent since last year. It said the labour shortages in the sector are due to an aging workforce.

Also, a provincial Finance and Treasury Board article released in July reported that construction prices for nonresidential buildings increased by nearly 12 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

Less accessible ice time

Jasmine Mah is the vice-president of the Dalhousie/King’s Figure Skating Club.

“It’s unfortunate that construction has been delayed because access to a rink on campus would just open up opportunities for the Dalhousie figure skating club as well as opportunities for the community to become more involved in figure skating,” she said.

Seven women stand in a line in an ice rink, wearing grey shirts, black leggings and figure skates
caption The Dalhousie/King’s Figure Skating Club executive team from last season lines up for a team photo.
Jasmine Mah

Right now she said the club meets at the Halifax Forum, where Dalhousie leases ice time. However, it’s the same rink where the Dal Tigers hockey teams play, and other clubs outside Dalhousie use the rink too. Because of that, the club can only use the rink twice a week. Mah said time restrictions and the distance from campus, which is about three kilometres, mean that most of the 35 members can only come once a week.

She was hoping that the on-campus rink would make figure skating more accessible and introduce other Dalhousie students to the club. They had been planning showcases of the figure skaters at the rink next fall so that more of the Dalhousie community could be involved with the club. Now she said those showcases will be cancelled.

Dalhousie had planned for the construction period to be between summer 2022 and early 2024. The university has not released a new timeline for the rink’s construction.

Earlier this month, the Coast reported that Dalhousie was nearly $15 million over budget for the rink.

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About the author

Anna Mandin

Anna Mandin is from Calgary, Alberta. She's a 2022 World Journalism Institute graduate and was a 2022 summer radio intern at World Magazine....

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