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Victoria Park: the park that works despite itself 

The “forgotten little sister” of the Public Gardens needs some attention, says Nancy Tissington.

click to enlarge A Burns for all seasons.
  • A Burns for all seasons.

One of the oddest urban spaces in Halifax is Victoria Park, which works as a park seemingly despite itself.

"It's the neglected little sister," says Spring Garden Area Merchants Association president Nancy Tissington. "The Public Gardens gets all the attention, and Victoria Park is forgotten about."

Tissington is talking about neglect from the city, not from the public generally. On a nice day, especially in the winter, when the Public Gardens is closed, Victoria Park fills up at lunch time, and has a quirky attraction as a momentary refuge for people before getting on the bus, or as a short cut to pretty much everywhere.

Named for Queen Victoria, an Englishwoman of German descent, Victoria Park nonetheless has a dominant Scottish theme, thanks to the work of the North British Society. The northern front, along Spring Garden Road, hosts the large monument to Rabbie Burns, built in 1919. A nice bust of Walter Scott was put along the eastern edge of the park in the '30s, and a monument to William Alexander was built in the '50s. Some years ago a fountain was built celebrating the Oland beer family.

But the city doesn't pay much attention to the park, says Tissington. "I've asked them to reposition some of the benches, and to bring in more plant material. They've made some effort, but it's not enough."

Tissington wants to see free wifi installed in the park and, especially, lighting. "I looked over at Christmastime, and it was complete and utter darkness," she says. "We need some light fixtures in there, and I know the city has issues with lights in trees, but I'd like to see that. If you're in the new Trillium across the street, you could look down and see this really nice little park."

Victoria Park is the only outdoor space her organization can use without closing streets, says Tissington, and she'd like to see still more programming in it. "Isn't Burns' birthday coming up? Maybe we should serve haggis over there," she says, laughing. --TB

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