The Forum’s uncertain future

It’s been host to Reba McEntire and Hulk Hogan, and now the Halifax Forum could be at its end.

Some 400 community members, young and old, rich and poor, gathered on July 2 to try and save the Forum. - KATIE TOTH
Katie Toth
Some 400 community members, young and old, rich and poor, gathered on July 2 to try and save the Forum.

Everyone has a Forum memory. It's been home to Nova Scotia's first professional hockey team, and has played host to everyone from Reba McEntire to Mohammad Ali, Hulk Hogan to Waka Flocka Flame.

History aside, on any given day the humble Halifax Forum holds world-class music, university sports, community skates, the region's largest flea market and plenty of bingo. Its heavy brick visage, diversity and permanence on Windsor Street have made the Forum a defining feature of Halifax's landscape. Now it's at risk of demolition, as a staff proposal is before the city to tear down old venues like the Forum and Centennial Arena in Dartmouth and replace them with brand-new facilities.

One of those proposed replacements is a four-pad arena in Windsor Park which will require negotiations with Canadian Forces Base Halifax to build. There are still lots of questions about what that partnership will look like, and the Forum Community Association has criticized the new arena for having less seating and reserving public ice space for CFB members.

The association has its own plans for upgrading their facility, with two additional ice surfaces and a community gymnasium. Those ideas were outlined to the 400 people attending an information session earlier this month, which was naturally held at the Forum.

Civic officials, bus drivers, business leaders, roller derby players and little old ladies all took the mic that evening to plead for the building's salvation. It was striking to witness. There aren't many places in Halifax that cut across nearly all demographics, all classes. The Forum does.

Regional council will discuss whether the building is worth saving this Tuesday, July 29.

It’ll take nine votes against the four-pad arena proposal to save the Halifax Forum. Here’s who’s voting how.

Linda Mosher, strongly against
Mosher tells The Coast the four-pad plan "doesn't make sense."

Jennifer Watts, strongly against
Watts, Mason, Mosher and Walker have publicly led the charge to keep the Forum.

Waye Mason, strongly against
Mason wants an upgraded three-pad at the Forum and renovations on Centennial Arena.

Russell Walker, strongly against
"We need gyms on the peninsula."

Brad Johns, likely against
Johns was in a hurry when caught at City Hall, but says he wants to save the building.

Stephen Adams, likely against
Adams says he's not in any circumstance in favour of tearing down the Forum.

Matt Whitman, possibly against
"I am still open indeed," Whitman writes in an email, "but can share that I am a Forum fan."

Tim Outhit, possibly against
Still not 100 percent either way, Outhit says he has concerns about the four-pad's seating.

Lorelei Nicoll, possibly against
Nicoll is still waiting for more information and the forthcoming staff report on the issue.

Reg Rankin, possibly against
Rankin says he's still looking into the matter but isn't taking the decision to replace the Forum lightly.

Darren Fisher, unclear
Fisher replied via email that he didn't want to respond until reading the upcoming staff report.

Mike Savage, unclear
Savage's media person Shaune MacKinlay says the mayor is leaning towards a choice, but wouldn't say where his vote will fall.

Bill Karsten, likely for
Karsten says most of what he's heard about saving the Forum is based only on nostalgia.

Steve Craig, likely for
Craig hasn't made up his mind yet, but finds it "hard to imagine" the renovated Forum will attract profitable revenue.

Gloria McCluskey, strongly for
McCluskey isn't concerned about the Forum's history. "What history? Teams played there. What else is historic?"

David Hendsbee, strongly for
"Down with the Forum," Hendsbee says, in no uncertain terms.

Barry Dalrymple
Refused comment based on past coverage in The Coast.

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