Nova Scotia

Common ground on Commons land? Public to have its say

People will get a chance early next year to say how they think Commons in Halifax and Dartmouth should be used.

People will get a chance early next year to say how they think Commons in Halifax and Dartmouth should be used.

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is holding separate reviews on the Halifax Common and Dartmouth Common.

"We need an overall master plan to understand what the opportunities and constraints are," said Peter Bigelow, the municipal manager handling the reviews.

Don Chard welcomes a review of the Dartmouth Common.

Chard, a Dartmouth resident who used to sit on the Dartmouth Common committee, isn't pleased with the plan to build a bus terminal on a section of the land.

Municipal politicians say improving public transit is an appropriate use of the land for the public good. The province agreed to the move earlier this week.

Chard believes other nearby properties should have been considered.

"As Will Rogers once said, 'Buy land — they're not making any more of it,'" Chard said. "The HRM should be drawing a line somewhere."

The review of the Dartmouth Common is expected to begin in January or February, around the same time as the Halifax Common review.

A proposed land swap in Halifax between the municipality and the province is raising questions too.

Under the plan, which has already been approved by the municipality, a chunk of the Halifax Common (the former Queen Elizabeth High School) will end up in the hands of the Capital District Health Authority to expand a hospital.

One group, the Friends of the Halifax Common, wants the land returned to green space.

Coun. Dawn Sloane said she can't argue against the expansion of the hospital on Halifax Common lands, though she agrees the policies for the remaining green space need attention.

"Everything from do we actually need seven ball fields to should there be a place for the arts?" Sloane said.

Where possible, Sloane said sites that are no longer being used for a school or hospital or parking lot should be returned to park land.