Future of Halifax Forum could be decided with council vote this week

Published on July 28, 2014
The Halifax Forum.
Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper

HALIFAX - The future of the Halifax Forum could be decided this Tuesday, and the area councillor is hoping her colleagues will reject a proposal to close the facility and instead support the “unique and really important” changes put forward by the Halifax Forum Community Association (HFCA).

A city staff report recommends closing the Forum and selling the land to help offset the cost of a new facility at CFB Halifax in Windsor Park.

“The opportunities and resources would be very different,” Coun. Jennifer Watts said about the CFB’s proposed four ice rinks, three of which would be for public use. “They don’t have the space for the larger arena seating. Their locker rooms at this point are … quite limited,” she said.

HRM’s share of the $45 million construction cost for the four-pad would be about $33.8 million over two years.

The HFCA has developed a $39 million proposal to refurbish the Forum, add a gymnasium, third ice surface, and expand the existing Forum and Civic rinks to NHL size.

Watts said since there would be the same number of public ice rinks created in both proposals, it would be best to renovate the Forum because it also includes a 4,500 seat arena, community Bingo, and future gym space which is “difficult to find” on the peninsula.

“There’s several things being offered which I think are unique and really important,” Watts said.

George Findlay, HFCA chair, said Sunday their group was feeling “very positive” council would reject the proposed four-pad.

“If they give up the Forum, they’re giving up a community centre for what? Four sheets of ice and that’s it,” Findlay said.

He said the four-pad proposal “doesn’t make sense” for the community because the military could decide to close a rink without notice.

He also said there’s “unanswered questions” around how the lease would work, and who would own the facility after it closed.