A new performing arts centre, stadium, fire training facility and police headquarters will be among a list of proposed long-term projects to be discussed at a Halifax Regional Municipality committee meeting on Thursday.
A special meeting combining the community planning and economic development committee and the audit and finance committee has been called to consider two lists of city projects — ones that have already been approved and ones that are potential projects.
Projects that are already in the planning stages include upgrades to the Dartmouth Sportsplex, the demolition of the Cogswell Interchange and two recently announced arenas.
On Thursday, the committees are set to discuss the details of a report prepared by municipal staff that recommended two four-rink arenas — one in Windsor Park in Halifax and the other in Shannon Park in Dartmouth.
The list of potential projects to be discussed on Thursday includes a commuter rail, a new stadium and a new performing arts centre.
Halifax Regional Municipality staff say an arts centre is needed for events that are too large for the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on the Dalhousie University campus but not appropriate for the Metro Centre.
A couple of other proposed projects that have not yet been widely discussed include new police headquarters and a firefighter training facility that could be shared with other levels of government and the Halifax International Airport Authority.
Even with potential cost sharing, the Halifax Regional Municipality would have to borrow $100 million to cover the total estimated price tag of $300 million for all of the proposed projects. Staff with the municipality believe the city could borrow the money without significantly affecting the tax rate.
Arena proposal creates controversy
They also say there will be enough money from the sale of surplus land and in city reserve accounts to cover the $98 million cost of the approved projects.
The two new proposed four-rink arenas have created controversy because city staff have recommended closing up to seven older arenas — including the Halifax Forum and the Centennial Arena.— once the new rinks are built.
A report prepared by municipal staff said the best option of a rink complex on the Halifax peninsula involves partnering with the military and building a new facility at Windsor Park, to open in 2017.
Another arena is being eyed for Dartmouth and might be located on the Shannon Park lands. It could open by 2019.
If built, the two arenas will replace the Halifax Forum and Civic Centre, and the Devonshire, Gray, Bowles, Gerald J. Lebrun and Centennial arenas. Those facilities would be declared surplus.
The Halifax Forum is larger than most community rinks and is close to 90 years old.
Coun. Jennifer Watts said when it comes to the Halifax Forum, "People are referring to this as the Fenway Park of Halifax."