Halifax officials recommend selling former arena site assessed at $4M
Gerald B. Gray Memorial Arena in Dartmouth closed last year when new rinks opened in Burnside
A new report from municipal officials recommends the Halifax region put a former rink in north-end Dartmouth on the market for private development, despite a proposal from a non-profit group to take over the site.
The former Gerald B. Gray Memorial Arena sits on 1.9 hectares and is assessed at $4 million. There is also a 64-car parking lot, a tennis court and a playground. The arena closed in 2018 after a new four-rink facility opened in Burnside and repairs to the arenas at Cole Harbour Place were completed.
The councillor for the area, Tony Mancini, said Monday he isn't surprised by the recommendation to sell, as the property's "big footprint" means it would be a "big undertaking" for a community group.
The site was initially offered to community groups. A number of organizations considered it, but only Soccer Nova Scotia submitted a formal proposal, in June 2018. It offered to pay $42,000 for the building and the land.
The proposal also involved investing just over $1 million to turn the rink into an indoor soccer training facility and upgrade the outdoor recreational facilities.
But Halifax municipal officials do not believe the plan is economically viable because a private group has opened an indoor field facility next to the former Bowles arena, which is also in Dartmouth.
East Coast Varsity runs a private school for athletes and bought the Bowles in August 2018 for skills training. It also rents the ice to other hockey organizations.
The group set up a domed facility beside the rink in January 2019 for soccer, football and lacrosse. It started booking the turf the second weekend of February.
Brad Lawlor, the executive director of Soccer Nova Scotia, said Monday he agreed the Dartmouth area now has enough indoor training space.
Mancini still thinks there needs to be one more step taken before the Gray property is put up for sale.
"I really think it's important that we ask the community what they would like there," said Mancini. "And then we can figure out is it realistic and how do we make that happen."
Mancini said he could see some affordable housing on the site, along with some updated recreational facilities.
On Tuesday, regional council approved Mancini's request for public consultations before the Gray arena property is put on the market.
He asked staff to come back for further direction once public feedback is gathered.