Nova Scotia

Halifax's Maritime Conservatory ponders move out of aging building

The Conservatory is now housed in its own building on Chebucto Road and a petition is being circulated on social media urging against moving to a new facility.

In a statement, the conservatory said it plans 'to engage with our community prior to decisions being made'

The Maritime Conservatory in west end Halifax was originally a school. (Google)

Halifax's Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts may be on the move.

The conservatory is now housed in its own building near Chebucto Road and Windsor Street, and a petition is being circulated on social media to "save the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts building." 

The online petition, which has attracted 1,300 signatures in 24 hours, specifically mentions the importance of the building's Lillian Piercey Concert Hall, "which is known to have some of the best acoustics in the city."

In a statement to CBC News, the conservatory's board of governors confirmed they are in "the very early stages of considering our options."

"It is a beautiful, unique, and historic building that we cherish," school of music dean Jack Bennet said in the statement.

"It is also aging and requires significant maintenance and upkeep, with associated costs."

The building, which was originally a school, was used as a makeshift first aid centre and morgue following the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The building was acquired by the conservatory from the City of Halifax close to 30 years ago. 

One option for the conservatory could be to move just a couple of blocks north to a site on Almon Street where the former Acadian Lines bus terminal used to sit.

Westwood Group plans to develop the site starting this fall. Westwood president Danny Chedrawe said the project will have one million square feet of mixed-use space that could include a non-profit like the conservatory.

Chedrawe said there have been preliminary discussions with the conservatory about moving into the new space. But he added Westwood has no interest in acquiring the current site of the conservatory or its aging structure.

The idea of a move is not going over well with some supporters and users of the conservatory.

"I can tell you that it is such a wonderful space in a city that doesn't have a lot of beautiful and wonderfully acoustically resonate spaces for classical music," opera singer Jane Archibald said.

"In a city as important as Halifax, to get rid of such a beautiful hall with so many uses to so many groups, it doesn't make sense to me."

In its statement, the conservatory said it plans "to engage with our community prior to decisions being made.

"We thank our dedicated community of supporters for their passion and support, and will keep them informed of any new developments."

 

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