Old arenas’ future in doubt in Halifax region
Halifax regional council has voted to demolish the Devonshire and Gerald B. Gray Memorial arenas while declaring the Bowles Arena surplus.
Meanwhile many councillors expressed concern at the lack of progress on the renovation and expansion of the Halifax Forum.
During a staff presentation, it was noted that the Gray, Bowles, Devonshire and Lebrun arenas have reduced their operating times due to a lack of demand.
In 2012, council approved the Long-Term Arena Strategy to guide long-term facility planning and decision-making through to 2022. This strategy found that the overall use of the arenas was declining while several facilities were outdated or in poor condition.
One of the main recommendations was to replace many of the single ice surfaces with new multi-pad, multi-surface arenas.
Coun. Waye Mason said HRM has a pretty good mix of facilities in place right now.
According to the staff report, there are currently 24 ice surfaces in HRM, with one modern four-pad rink at the BMO Arena in Bedford and one in the works in Dartmouth.
Mason said the Forum is considered by many as Halifax’s primary sportsplex, and he’s worried about waiting too long for renovations. In the report, staff mentioned the Forum building assessment notes limitations and risks associated with renovating it.
The exterior brick of the Forum, which is listed as a heritage building, is in poor condition and has extensive areas of cracked brick.
Council voted to direct staff to complete additional assessments of the building’s condition before moving forward.
The demolition of the Devonshire Arena, located near Mulgrave Park, will proceed once the Dartmouth four-pad is up and running. The property will then likely be retained for municipal recreational use.
The Gerald B. Gray Memorial Arena in Dartmouth was categorized as “community interest” and the disposal process for the property will begin immediately.
Meanwhile, the Bowles Arena is being categorized as “extraordinary” and staff were directed to give notice to the property owner next door that it is now surplus to municipal requirements.