HRM shelling out $11,000 a month to maintain vacant Bloomfield building
Published Wednesday, May 18, 2016 10:57AM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 18, 2016 10:58AM ADT
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says an announcement is coming about the future of the Bloomfield Housing Project, but as the building sits idle, it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars a day.
The Bloomfield Centre in Halifax is set to be converted into affordable housing and briefing notes to Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard indicate the project’s first phase was slated for completion by spring 2017.
However, work has yet to begin, and the province is now reconsidering its own involvement in the project.
“We’ve been able to talk to stakeholders and with the HRM and we’ll be making a decision very shortly,” says Bernard.
The building remains the property of the municipality and has been on the city’s surplus list since 2009. It’s costing taxpayers several thousand dollars a month to maintain the site; last year it cost more than $135,000, although the municipality expects that to drop to $90,000 for the coming fiscal year.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation obtained those numbers, but even with an anticipated reduction, the cost isn’t sitting well with Atlantic Director Kevin Lacey.
“It’s time for the governments to move forward, make a decision, and stop spending money on buildings that they’re not using and that are falling down,” Lacey.
City spokesperson Tiffany Chase says they are working to try to bring the costs down.
“When we no longer require that heat on site, that dramatically reduces the holding costs for those vacant properties,” she says.
The former Spring Garden Road Library also cost the city more than $135,000 to maintain last year, after the new library opened across the street.
For now, that building is owned by the municipality, although Halifax Regional Council has voted to turn it over to the province. Now Nova Scotia Business Minister Mark Furey is looking for a possible tenant.
“We believe that’s a valuable piece of property and, in these circumstances, the province feels a property that we would retain and or lease,” says Furey.
He acknowledges that would require the province to spend millions on renovations and upgrades – another cost that would potentially be carried by taxpayers.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Ritchie