Nova Scotia

The Carleton bar crowdfunds to stay afloat during Nova Centre build

One of Halifax’s most popular live music venues, The Carleton Music Bar and Grill, is struggling to stay open and hopes a new crowdfunding campaign will help solve its financial woes.

Owner Mike Campbell says fewer customers going to bar because of construction

The Carleton has been a hot spot for local live music in Halifax for years. Now its owner is looking for help to keep the venue open. (Facebook)

One of Halifax's most popular live music venues is struggling to stay open and hopes a new crowdfunding campaign will help solve financial woes it says were brought on by the giant construction project across the street. 

The owner of The Carleton Music Bar and Grill, Mike Campbell, said fewer people are going downtown because of the Nova Centre construction, which means less money is coming into his business. 

"I've heard from a number of our customers that downtown is just too much grief, there's nowhere to park and when you do park you get a ticket. It's been quite noticeable over the last few years." 

Campbell said he lost about $300,000 in revenue in 2015 compared to the years before construction began. 

"This business is really tough at the best of times, nobody is really making money, but we kept ourselves pretty much at the break-even point." 

That delicate balance is starting to teeter as The Carleton continues to lose money. Campbell said he's paying about $10,000 a month in rent, which combined with other bills is becoming unmanageable. 

Mike Campbell is hoping loyal patrons will come to the aid of The Carleton by donating money through a crowdfunding site on a monthly basis. (Stephanie Clattenburg/CBC)

Campbell hopes people will donate whatever they can on a monthly recurring basis through the crowdfunding site Patreon. 

He said a donation of any size will help The Carleton and in turn aid the local music scene by providing a venue for local talent. He hopes a combination of donors could bring in about $5,000 a month.

To date, 46 patrons are donating a total of $356.99 a month to keep The Carleton in business. 

City has no plans to reimburse businesses

Campbell is pushing Halifax to compensate downtown businesses for the money they've lost due to the construction. He doesn't believe there's a flaw in his business model that's led to the downturn.

"Our numbers and our price and that kind of stuff is pretty much in line with everybody else. I'm sure there's a million people who are going to say he doesn't run his business properly, you suck," said Campbell. 

"That isn't really the case here. It isn't just me, it's a lot of businesses." 

A spokeswoman for the Halifax Regional Municipality said as of right now it has no plans to reimburse businesses for any financial loss. However, municipal staff are working on a report that examines the idea of compensating businesses. 

That report will look at how to create a policy to help businesses affected by the long-term closures of streets near their locations. 

That report will eventually be brought to regional council for consideration, but it's not clear when. 


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