D eja vu—is that you? It is. In the fall of 2011 Halifax Regional Council OK'd a possible $20 million contribution to a rumoured $60 million stadium. At that time The Coast reported that the money was contingent on a slew of factors (the factors did not come to fruition, the moulah was never spent, but the dream didn't die).
Badda-boom, badda-bing, it's 2019 and we're ringing in the decade with a $20 million contribution towards a new CFL affiliated stadium, approved this week by regional council.
Councillor Sam Austin's attempt to quash the stadium in October failed, and staff returned to council this week with a pre-plan plan for the future home of Schooner Sports and Entertainment's CFL team.
This week's recommendation said no to building a stadium on the land at Shannon Park—citing extensive public consultation that was against it and a plan for residential development already on the go, plus the high cost of making the space accessible by transit.
This time, armed with more than a hopeful FIFA bid—Schooner Sports and Entertainment is on board, wants to run the project and the team, and has CFL support—staff recommended a $20 million one-time contribution that wouldn't be handed over until first, a new location was decided upon, other partners like the province buy into the project and the facility is "near completion." Whether that means there are the beginnings of a hole in the ground or we can smell the sweat of the players (who earn a minimum of $41,000 a year) is up for discussion.
The money is coming from the city's capital reserve fund. It's earmarked for big-spending items that can be used to leverage money from other parties (like federal funding for green projects or provincial dollars behind a touchdown terrarium). Established in 2014, the account takes money from the sale of property and other sources, and currently has $39 million.
A close 10-7 vote in favour means the city will now work with SSE to find a new home—SSE's Anthony LeBlanc says since the news came out last week that Shannon Park was not an option, there's been lots of ideas floated from Woodside to Dartmouth Crossing.
Councillors Sam Austin, Waye Mason, Lindell Smith, Shawn Cleary, Richard Zurawski, Matt Whitman and Tim Outhit voted no. Steve Streatch, David Hendsbee, Bill Karsten, Lorelei Nicoll, Tony Mancini, Russell Walker, Stephen Adams, deputy mayor Lisa Blackburn, Paul Russell and mayor Mike Savage voted yes.
Councillors discussed the merit of the project, speaking under the shadow of budget discussions earlier that day that waxed on about the process of attaching dollar bills to value judgements, why some things (splash pads) were getting money this coming year and other projects had been booted into 3-10 years from now. Council also approved $16 million for part of the Halifax Common revitalization project, which will see the pool, playground and community centre area "brought into this century"—never mind the decade.