Big, bright Halifax Convention Centre opens doors after 2-year delay

After five years of construction and several delays, the Halifax Convention Centre opened its doors on Friday.

Project was supposed to be completed in January 2016

Halifax's new convention centre officially opened its doors on Friday. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

Big and bright.

Those are the best words to describe the new Halifax Convention Centre, which officially opened its doors on Friday.

"This new centre gives us the opportunity to show visitors everything that makes our city and our region unique," said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage. "Our guests will create great memories that will inspire them to come back."

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage speaks at the opening of the Halifax Convention Centre on Dec. 15, 2017. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The new building has a massive ballroom lined with windows on one side.

On the bottom level is another huge room built specifically to host conferences.

Taxpayers are spending $169.2 million for the convention centre. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

"We are ready to welcome the world to our brand new, state-of-the-art facility," said Carrie Cussons, president and CEO of the Halifax Convention Centre.

"We look forward to delivering an amazing event experience for our guests that will make Nova Scotians proud."

The Halifax Convention Centre includes 120,000 square feet of flexible event space. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Ninety events are already booked for the facility's first year of operations, including 44 national and international conventions. The first scheduled event is the Canadian Junior Weightlifting Nationals in late January.

Staff at the centre are planning a welcome weekend for the public to see the new facility Jan. 12 to 14.

90 events are already booked for the Halifax Convention Centre's first year. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Breaking ground in 2012, the Halifax Convention Centre took five years to complete and is part of a larger $500-million project known as the Nova Centre. The entire one-million-square-foot space is designed to house the convention centre, a luxury hotel and business and retail space.

The complex was originally supposed to open in January 2016, but the date has been pushed back several times. Some parts of the Nova Centre remain under construction.

That cost the convention centre 22 events that had been booked for 2017.

The first event in the new space will be the Canadian weighlifting junior nationals on Jan. 20, 2018. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

The construction has also caused headaches for some local businesses, which launched — and then abandoned — a lawsuit over lost revenue.

On Friday, protesters were on the scene holding a sign that read, "Convention Centre: a waste of $100s of millions in public funds."

Taxpayers are spending $169.2 million for the convention centre — part of a deal with the developer that is cost shared by three levels of government.