I’ve received a lot of emails concerned about the proposed “pop up stadium” on the Wanderer’s grounds. I share a lot of the concerns! First off, Council is not deciding to allow this, Council will possibly ask for a staff report to consider the proposal. This is very far from a done deal, there are many questions that need to be answered first.
Sports Entertainment Atlantic has requested HRM consider allowing temporary bleachers at Wanderers to allow a 6000 seat stadium similar to what was proposed for the rugby match last year.
For details of the current proposal, you can read the presentation here.
I am interested to explore this proposal for a couple of reasons – the site has a long history of being a major sports field. Use of space on the Halifax Common is guided by the Halifax Common Plan 1994. That plan calls for Wanderer’s to be used for multi-purpose space for athletic events, concerts, and other public use. It also sets out terms for private donations of facilities and gated events on the Common. I’ve attached some relevant policy and a link to the 1994 report below. I think that done properly the proposal could meet all of these policy goals and objectives and really enhance the Common.
It should be recognized though that some folks believe that there may be legal reasons why a gated (ticketed) event can no longer be allowed on the Common. This report will help answer that question.
Other concerns I have include potential impacts on the Public Gardens, making sure the space cannot operate late (no noise exemptions) and making sure that any games are timed to not conflict with other uses that impact the neighbourhood, so no pro-soccer during the weekday, for example, or on weekends when parking is at a premium (Pride Weekend, Natal Day). I also would only support the proposal if regular users could still access the field at the same price as they do now.
The motion the standing committee will consider later this month is: That the Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee request a staff report into the feasibility of permitting a pop-up stadium on the Wanderer’s Grounds as proposed in the March 24, 2017 letter from Sports Entertainment Atlantic.
1994 Halifax Common Plan – selected policy
- 5.1 The whole Wanderer’s Grounds and Bell Road block should over the long term, remain under city control and be consolidated into a multi-purpose all-season area which includes athletic events, special events, concerts, public gatherings, and general public use. (page 34)
- Objective: Within acceptable limits, allow privately sponsored temporary events with paid admission and exclusion of the general publics, and encourage private funding of facilities and activities through joint ventures. (page 36)
- 7.6 Private donation of permanent facilities should be permitted provided this does not restrict public use…
- 7.7 The city will encourage joint ventures with private or non-profit groups to develop and operate cultural and recreational facilities on the Common.
- 7.8 User charges where applicable will be the same as the rest of the city. (page 39)