Proposal floated for old Halifax library baffles cultural groups
Published Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:10PM AST
Pigeons are the only ones hanging out at the old Halifax Memorial Library these days. It has sat empty ever since the sparkling new library opened four years ago.
It was dedicated in 1951 to war veterans and used to be a hub for the community and now there's a new idea for how it might be used again – but some are worried that other ideas have been left out in the cold.
Its uncertain future is appearing to get a little clearer as the city is considering one idea revealed Wednesday.
“We have to start figuring out what we're going to do with this piece of land,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage told Regional Council.
A proposal from Dalhousie University would double the size of the library, house city planners, and include space for Dalhousie’s school of architecture. There would also be commercial and public spaces.
As it stands now the proposal would have a price tag of about $30 million, so city council has asked staff to prepare a report on the feasibility of the idea and that report will come back to council in the New Year.
“We'd been told it would be a long time before anything would be happening,” said Tim Callahan-Cross of the Nova Scotia Choral Federation.
Dalhousie's detailed proposal caught Callahan-Cross by surprise. He toured the site this spring with other arts groups with the hope of creating a cultural centre.
“It could really be a great hub,” he said. “It's a perfect location. It could have great public access and it would address a lot of community needs.”
But Callahan-Cross says a city staffer told the group to wait before making its formal pitch. Now, he's not sure what to do.
Mayor Savage likes Dalhousie's idea, but says the city welcomes other proposals - as long as they satisfy two goals.
“We're trying to do it in such a way that minimizes risk to the city tax base, but does something with the property that I think the public would really value,” he said.
The city's other option is to have the building demolished.
While there's no deadline for a final decision, the mayor says he doesn't want the next chapter in the life of this Halifax landmark to go unwritten much longer.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.