Mike Savage says Dartmouth should get rink complex first

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says Dartmouth should be first to get a new four-rink arena, despite a staff recommendation to start in Halifax.

Halifax mayor wants new arena right away in Burnside, not Shannon Park

The arena in Bedford with four ice surfaces cost $34 million. Two more four-rink complexes will be built in Halifax and Dartmouth. (WHW Architects)

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says one of the two four-rink complexes should be built in Dartmouth's Burnside industrial section before one is built in Halifax.

The issue of new arenas came up Thursday morning at a special meeting of the community planning and economic development committee.

Municipal staff recommended the Halifax complex go ahead in 2017 at the Windsor Park military site and the Dartmouth facility wait until 2019 so the lands at the former Shannon Park military base can be considered as a site. They showed detailed financial information Thursday to back up their suggestion.

But Savage said municipal-owned land on Commodore Drive in the Burnside Industrial Park is the best option and that construction should take place right away.

I don't think Shannon Park is a viable option- Halifax Mayor Mike Savage

"I don't think Shannon Park is a viable option. There's so many moving parts. Is that where a stadium is? It's very possible, but we haven't figured it out. Is there room for a rink there? Maybe, but it's years down the road," he said.

"If you look at Commodore [Drive], we're developing a sports campus right there. You can play rugby, soccer and football. We've got the volleyball courts, so in my view Commodore is the place that's ready to go. We own the land, we have the capacity."

Closing older arenas

Municipal staff also recommended closing up to seven older arenas — including the Halifax Forum and the Centennial Arena — once the new rinks are built.

Closing the 90-year-old Halifax Forum is not an idea that sits well with Coun. ​Waye Mason, who represents Halifax's downtown and south end.

"I've never been in favour of closing the Forum," Mason said.

"We need the Forum. In my younger years, when I was still cool and did concerts, we had the Junos [Awards] happen, locking down the Metro Centre, the Mooseheads were playing to 6,000 people in the Forum, I was doing a concert with 2,200 in the [Forum] Multi-Purpose Room.

"All these spaces were being used and none of them were being used for recreation or amateur hockey. It's essential we have the capacity to do these things."

Councillors will debate the matter before any decision is made.