More consultation needed on future of old Halifax Memorial Library
Published Friday, May 24, 2019 10:22PM ADT
The old Halifax Memorial Library has seen many rainy springs, but for the past five years, it hasn't seen any members of the public pass through its doors.
Since the shiny new public library was built, the future of the old has been undetermined.
Chris Marriott says there hasn't been enough open consultation by the city on plans for the old site.
“We're not aware of anyone having asked the taxpayer or citizens what they would like to see,” said Marriott, the chair of the Halifax Military History Preservation Society.
Thursday night, the society hosted an information session and shared the history of the building that was dedicated to war veterans in 1951 and that of the more than four thousand people buried on its grounds when it was the poorhouse cemetery.
Marriott wants assurances those remains will be undisturbed -- and never forgotten.
“There's nothing there on that site for hundreds of years now, to mark the fact that thousands of Haligonians are interred there,” Marriott said. “We think that's a historic wrong that the city of Halifax now has to correct.”
Last November, city council directed city staff to develop a proposal in partnership with Dalhousie University to redevelop the space to house city planners and Dal's school of architecture, along with commercial and public space. The estimated cost was $30 million.
City spokesperson Erin DiCarlo says a report on that is still in the works
“It's ongoing and we're expecting it to come to council in the coming months,” DiCarlo said.
Andrew Murphy is with the Nova Scotia Heritage Trust.
“We think if Dalhousie needs a building, they can go fill the parking lot where the infirmary used to be, they don't need to build on a gravesite,” Murphy said.
The Nova Scotia Heritage Trust has several ideas, including building a public amphitheater showcasing the original facade of the building.
“Our young architect that we've hired through our program this summer has done a projection of it as a war memorial,” Murphy said. “We think it's something that should be considered.”
In 2013, city council voted to demolish the building if a viable, public use wasn't found.
The city is spending what it calls a nominal amount to maintain and secure the vacant building.
But for how much longer -- is a chapter yet unwritten.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.