Discovery Centre to get $2 million for new downtown Halifax home

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - The Discovery Centre will get a one-time cash infusion of $2 million from the municipality to help with the costs of its new Lower Water Street facility.

Pedestrians walk past the Discovery Centre building on Barrington Street.

The Centre asked for the funding in February 2013 as part of the capital fundraising for its new home in the former Nova Scotia Power building.

“The discovery centre has been a great asset to this municipality, it does great work,” said Coun. Bill Karsten at regional council’s weekly meeting on Tuesday. “I think it’s something that Halifax will be very proud of when it’s built in the state of the art form that it will be, I think it’ll attract people from all over.”

The funding request doesn’t meet the criteria for any of HRM’s existing grants programs, and financial staffers are recommending taking the money out of the municipality’s surplus on an ad hoc basis – a point of concern for some.

“It’s a little bit of a concern to me that this is being done as a one-off, so we need to have more of a process around these large grants,” said Coun. Waye Mason.

Coun. Jennifer Watts also suggested the Discovery Centre’s annual grant of $145,000 be tied to a program ensuring financial accessibility to the centre for kids and school groups of all income levels.

Chief financial officer Greg Keefe said the centre could be asked to submit a proposal to meet that requirement for the 2015-16 year.

Council also approved a two-year extension to the timelines for the 16-storey development that will be built in the Discovery Centre’s current home on Barrington Street.

The existing development agreement requires that construction begin in July 2014 and be completed by July 2017 – but the Discovery Centre won’t have relocated in time to accommodate the start of construction.

Organizations: Discovery Centre, Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Halifax, Barrington Street

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