Nova Scotia

St. Patrick's-Alexandra appeal case now up to judge

The future of the St. Patrick’s-Alexandra School site is now up to a Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge.

Halifax council backs North Central Community Association plans, despite staff recommendation

Rev. Rhonda Britton addresses a crowd at St. Patrick's Alexandra in this file photo. (CBC)

The future of the St. Patrick’s-Alexandra School site is now up to a  Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge.

Staff at Halifax Regional Municipality recommended turning down a community proposal in favour of private development, but council rejected that option on Tuesday.

Instead, council voted to give the North Central Community Association a chance to buy the north-end Halifax building.

But first, the developer originally given leave to buy it had his day in court. Jono Development argued before the appeals court.

They are appealing a lower court ruling that overturned the sale because HRM did not offer it first to a non-profit group — as required in an old HRM written policy.

The policy, apparently forgotten, was never followed in the disposal of the previous 16 surplus schools.

“Even though they didn't follow the policy in this case, what were the legitimate expectations of these parties at that time,” said Justice David Farrar in court.

Council for the North Central Community Association says rules are rules.

“The law is what council.has said in writing, regardless of the practice,” said lawyer Ron Pink.

The judge in the case has now reserved his decision.

After the case had concluded Wednesday, Jono Development refused to comment.

Mayor Mike Savage led the move to prefer the community group Tuesday. “It's not only good for that part of Halifax, but all of Halifax,” he said.

Councillor Matt Whitman opposed the community proposal.

“I have to go with facts and figures versus just emotions and my heart,” he said.

Council voted 10 to seven in favour of the North Central Community Council Association plans.

Reverend Rhonda Britton is a leader of the community group. She celebrated the council’s decision, but said it’s just the start.

“We still have to be actually awarded the property in a two-thirds vote after a public hearing,” she said.