The discussion about building a stadium at Shannon Park is finally over.
Tuesday night Halifax regional council voted nine to seven to inform the Canada Lands Company that the municipality would not be purchasing land in Shannon Park with the intent to build a stadium.
Instead, staff were directed to work with Canada Lands to develop a community concept plan for the area, which has stood empty since 2003. Canada Lands purchased the property in 2014.
The decision came after an hour-long debate. In the process, council approved three of the five recommendations from regional staff. They also adopted the alternative proposal to inform Canada Lands that they would not be pursuing a stadium in Shannon Park.
The motion was put forward by Councillor Jennifer Watts of Halifax Peninsula North. She said that she did not support the stadium concept when it was first proposed and she wouldn’t support it now.
“This is only going to tie up more money and more staff time,” she said. “We have other priorities that are not getting done. Let’s get our planning staff doing what they need to be doing.”
Much of the debate centered on whether or not a 20,000 seat stadium was necessary, and if the benefits of funding the purchase outweighed the costs.
Councillor Tim Outhit of Bedford-Wentworth said that a previous study, which recommended a 10,000 to 14,000 seat stadium, didn’t find any support from the private sector, provincial government or federal government. He doubted that this time would be any different.
“If we think for a minute that the other levels of government [are] going to give money for a stadium over a hospital that is falling down, then we’re dreaming,” he said.
Many of the councillors felt that without any other support the cost would be too much for the municipality to fund on its own. They said there were more important priorities for the city to deal with.
Councillor Steve Craig of Lower Sackville, who grew up in the Shannon Park area, said the proposed stadium was about entertainment and not economic development.
“We are not in the stadium building business,” he said. “If this is such a good thing to do, I suspect there is a business case to be made by business and other communities.”
Mayor Mike Savage said that he has heard of support for a stadium in Halifax for the past 10 years. He said that this project wouldn’t be about creating a space for sports; it would be a space for the entire city.
“Don’t drive a stake in the heart of the stadium,” he said. “It’s not a football stadium we’re building. If we ever build a stadium it’s a stadium for all kinds of professional sport and concerts and things like that.
Outhit, who voted against the Shannon Park proposal, says that for supporters of a stadium all hope isn’t lost.
“I do think the idea is alive at council that sometime in the foreseeable future we certainly need a community size stadium,” he said.
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Alexander Quon is a freelance journalist from Saskatchewan with an interest in political reporting and data journalism. He's currently working...