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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Market Value

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2007 at 9:57 AM

The new Seaport Farmers' Market made a push for funding this week, which is an ongoing concern for market manager Fred Kilcup. Yes, the conceptual art looks beautiful, but the new market comes with a 9.75 million-dollar price tag. On Tuesday, Kilcup took his case to city council, and had a generally positive response.

"It went basically as we had hoped," he says. "We didn't anticipate that they would come across with a commitment on the spot, but they've seen their way to working with the port."

The Port Authority, that is. The new market location would be on federal land; it dictates that all levels of government need to co-ordinate their support. Kilcup won't say exactly how much the market is looking for from the municipal government, "but a figure of $1 million has been tossed around."

Another complication: The city is not allowed to give cash to for-profit ventures, which technically applies to the market. Some councillors expressed concern that doing so would set a dangerous precedent.

"Our goal is to run as a profitable venture—we want to be able to accrue funds for development, but not as a source to create dividends for ourselves," explains Kilcup. "It's our vendors who are given the opportunity to operate and profit."

Kilcup is optimistic that council will ultimately come though—"I think the general feeling was that it was the right thing to do." While Kilcup waits for the issue to return to council, he says the market will work on shoring up federal funding. The province has already kicked in $2.6 million towards it.

Come one, come ollie

The Common skatepark finally gets a grand opening ceremony on Thursday, September 20, from 5:30pm to 9:30. For reals this time! This is not a test!

"Yeah, it's been a long time coming," says Halifax Skatepark Coalition vice president Alex Keaveny. To be fair, co-ordinating a full-scale skatepark opening, complete with bands (She's No Angel, Ghettosocks and Gloryhound and the Skyhawks) and politicians (all four peninsula councillors, mayor Peter "nose manual" Kelly) is not an easy thing.

Wait—the mayor's coming? Please, someone issue that man a helmet.

"Yeah, he'll be flipping burgers," laughs Keaveny. "I don't think that mistake will be made again."

The Common park has effectively been open for a year already—Keaveny says the coalition basically took the summer off to enjoy its accomplishment. Even with their biggest project now successfully completed, the coalition's influence continues.

"I think it was a great learning process for them," he says of working with the city. As for the future, Keaveny says the coalition would like to enter "more of a consulting role, basically to ensure that whatever does get built is going to be built well." There's also talk of a skatepark masterplan, "to ensure that, if we have five parks, they're not all the same; there would be a reason to skate every park," says Keaveny. "Portland, Oregon did a great job, and I think that's what we need here."

And the greatest measure of success, at least for Keaveny—the Common park has been consistently packed.

"The level of riding has gone through the roof," he says. "There's an eight-stair hand rail, and a line-up of guys doing tricks down it. I mean, before...that would have been unheard of."

Get your grind on. Email mikef@thecoast.ca.

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