Nova Scotia

Metallica show latest concert battle in Halifax

The Metallica concert in Halifax will go on as planned next month, despite a battle over municipal services for the July 14 event.

Event will go ahead as scheduled, says city

Metallica is scheduled to play the Halifax Garrison Grounds on July 14. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. ((Tony Dejak/Associated Press))
The Metallica concert in Halifax will go on as planned next month, despite a battle over municipal services for the July 14 event.

"MacKay Entertainment Inc. and Halifax Regional Municipality are very pleased to confirm that 'Rock the Hill' is going forward as planned," the city said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

"In recent days, issues have been raised with respect to the provision of services associated with the concert. Any outstanding issues have been resolved."

Earlier this week, it was revealed the municipality had refused to provide services for the Metallica concert unless the promoter came up with a repayment plan for two concerts last summer.

Michele MacKay runs MacKay Entertainment Inc. She's married to Harold MacKay, the promoter who was advanced $400,000 for the Black Eyed Peas and Alan Jackson concerts. His company, Power Promotional Events, went bust last year.

Tickets sales for the concerts were poor and the municipality ended up losing $359,550.

Jerry Blackwood, the HRM's revenue manager, sent Michele MacKay a letter outlining the municipality's demands.

"Based on the history and resulting public funds owed from the 2010 concerts, our position is that it would have been prudent and practical on your part to consult HRM at the senior management level as to your plans for the Metallica concert," the letter states, according to the Chronicle Herald.

"Had HRM been advised upfront in the early days of planning for this concert, you would have known our position and could have made an appropriate business decision at that point in time. Today, the fate of the concert remains in your hands."

Council meets in secret

On Tuesday morning, Coun. Sue Uteck said it's a "world-class embarrassment" to risk the upcoming Metallica show by trying to recoup concert money lost last year. She said she would try to force a closed-door debate.

"If this councillor can convince her colleagues — and my track record of that lately has been batting zero — we'll come to a solution and this concert will go forward," she told CBC News.

Uteck said regional council had discussed the idea of forcing MacKay to pay up before the Metallica concert, but she said she didn't know the municipality was holding back on providing police services and fire permits.

Richard Butts (left), the municipality's chief administrative officer and promoter Harold MacKay speak with reporters on Tuesday. ((CBC))
"There was never any motion by council or any direction given by council. So I'm absolutely stunned this is taking place. It's such a blight on the city. It's a world-class embarrassment," she said.

Regional councillors were in an in-camera meeting — closed to public and media — for hours on Tuesday, discussing the issue. When they emerged, councillors refused to comment on what had taken place.

"When there's a comment to be made, it will be made by administration," said Mayor Peter Kelly.

Later — at a hastily called news conference — Harold MacKay and Richard Butts, the municipality's chief administrative officer, said the July 14 event was going ahead on the Garrison Grounds but gave few details about how the issues had been resolved.

"We had a negotiated settlement. These are big events and they require a lot of negotiation and working together to resolve lots of issues," Butts told reporters.

"We've resolved, in my mind, all the issues. There are no issues left between the promoter and HRM."

Butts said there "definitely was a negotiated settlement" related to the outstanding $359,550, but would not say how much money — if any — the city had recovered.

Concert scandal ongoing

Last week, Harold MacKay released a statement saying that based on the 2010 contract he had with the municipality, he doesn't owe any money at all.

The cash-for-concerts scandal has dogged the mayor and regional councillors for months.

The HRM's auditor general found that the secret deal — done without the knowledge of regional council — to advance Harold MacKay's company $400,000 violated municipal charter rules.

The two grants of $200,000, routed through a Metro Centre account, were based on ticket sales. Sales fell short, and ultimately the municipality was out about $359,550.

Last week, council voted against Uteck's attempt to suspend Mayor Peter Kelly  for a week as a punishment for his role in the scandal.