Nova Scotia

Fed-up councillor says time for debate on CFL stadium is over

The councillor for Dartmouth Centre says he's read the detailed analysis for the $110-million stadium proposed by Schooners Sports and Entertainment for Shannon Park and he's ready to vote on it. But he'll have opposition.

'I don't see anything that's going to come out of this being something that I can support'

Dartmouth Centre councillor Sam Austin has made a motion to forego a staff review of a proposed CFL stadium and sports complex proposal for Shannon Park and to vote on it right away. (CBC)

The councillor for Dartmouth Centre says he's read the detailed analysis for the $110-million stadium proposed by Schooners Sports and Entertainment for Shannon Park and he's ready to vote on it.

Coun. Sam Austin plans to put a motion before council Tuesday to nix a planned months-long staff review of the proposal. The motion will require the support of two-thirds of council to pass.

Last week, the Schooner group submitted its proposal, containing various ways the municipality could fund the stadium and community sports complex.

They include an upfront cash payment of 15-20 per cent of the cost, to annual payments of $2 million with the expectation of getting money back through ticket sales.

Austin isn't buying any of the those options, which would run into millions of dollars.

"I just looked at what they're asking of us in terms of the municipal financial contribution and where I feel the stadium ranks in terms of municipal priorities and I just can't square the two," he said.

"I don't see anything that's going to come out of this being something that I can support."

He disagrees with Halifax CAO Jacques Dubé​​​​'s decision to have city staff review the report and make a submission in the spring.

"What are we doing six months worth of detailed analysis and work, because that's not free," he said. "There's ... a cost there. You're putting staff on to this instead of doing other work.

"To me, it makes sense to have that conversation, check in with council to see … do we want to commit to this work? Do we want to advance this to the next stage or not? For me, I've seen enough at this point."

Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini, who represents Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East, says he believes a staff review is necessary and will vote against Austin's motion. (CBC)

Fellow Dartmouth councillor Tony Mancini disagrees.

"I'm opposed to it. I get his motion. But I think we need to do due diligence. I think we should go ahead and continue to direct staff to do an analysis on the proposal then come back a recommendation," he said.

"What I see so far in the proposals, I'm not jumping up with any excitement. But I want to see staff assess, take a deep dive into it. Come back with a recommendation. They may even come back with alternatives. That's why I'm not in favour Councillor Austin's motion."

Mancini, who's deputy mayor for Halifax, represents Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East where Shannon Park is located. 

Both Austin and Mancini said it is hard to gauge how the vote will go on Tuesday.

Mancini also said he hasn't yet decided whether or not to support the stadium.

"I'm getting lots of opinions on it and now I want to hear from my residents and I want to hear from our business people on it, " he said.

Mancini said he does understand what is fuelling Austin's move.

"That's his prerogative. He doesn't like the stadium. Sounds like to me he's already made up his mind. I haven't made up my mind."

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