In 2001, the Halifax West Electorial District had a population of 106,372 people
This area experienced 13% growth since the 1996 Census, however, the borders were recently re-drawn to exclude much of Mainland South (Spryfield, Jollimore, Purcell’s Cove, Herring Cove, Harrietsfield, etc.)
Assuming the same growth to 2006, the projected population of the former Halifax West Electorial District would be 120,200. It has been suggested by many that the majority of potential Mainland Common Recreation Centre users would come from within this boundary.
The Halifax West Electorial District now includes Fairview, Clayton Park, Clayton Park West, Rockingham, Prospect, Beechville, Lakeside , Timberlea, Hubley, Stillwater Lake , Hammonds Plains, Bedford. It is estimated that well over 120,000 people now reside in these areas.
The 1998 Major Recreation Facility Study commissioned by HRM indicated the mainland common site should be the location of a Regional Aquatic/Fitness Centre. Such a centre could not only service the immediate catchment area of over 100,000 people, but would also draw in users from outside communities.
What do we have now?
A recreation centre on the Mainland Commons site would be intended to serve a broad radius including parts of Bedford, Hammonds Plains, Tantallon, Timberlea, and Prospect as well as the immediate area in Clayton Park, Rockingham, Fairview, and Fairmount. The following is a compilation of the existing facilities within these areas.
- 27,800 square feet
- L-shaped, 25 metre, 6 lane pool
- 2 whirlpools
- Sauna (Co-ed)
- Family Change Rooms
- Free parking
ST. MARGARET’S CENTRE
- Two ice surfaces
- Outdoor pool (heated)
- Multi-purpose / Meeting rooms
- Free parking
- 40 years old
- One ice surface (smaller than standard size)
- Free parking
NORTHCLIFFE TENNIS CLUB
- 4 indoor courts
- October to May operating season
Our Shared Vision
We strongly believe that this community needs and is more than able to support a truly state-of-the-art, multidimensional facility built on the mainland common. We seek to have a new facility constructed that meets that expectation. In order to accomplish this, we need HRM to engage the community to ascertain what our needs really are.
Here are a few reasons why we believe having a better facility is both important and sustainable:
- There is a large catchment area of appoximately 200,000 people within a 20 minute drive of the proposed building site. Furthermore, the immediate area has seen explosive growth both commercially and residentially and has a population base of approximately 100,000. If you consider the geographical draw of the Bayer’s Lake business district there are really no geographical boundaries to the area that this facility could service.
- Northcliffe pool has been overused and inadequate to meet the needs of the community for many years now. A facility much bigger than Northcliffe is needed. Northcliffe was built in the early 1970s.
- Community fundraising will comprise a substantial amount to the project. Fundraising will only be successful if the facility is one that is supported by the community.
- Nova Scotia is stricken with preventable illness and disease due to inactive lifestyles. It has been a mandate of the Nova Scotia government to promote healthy and active lifestyles. A large multi-use facility would meet the “healthy and active lifestyles” mandate.
- Children are also at risk . Both their health and their free time are of concern. In order to attract children of all ages, and especially those in their critical teenage years, a facility is needed that is both able to appeal to them and handle the programs that will keep them involved in positive experiences.
- The larger the facility, the more inclusive for all groups whether it be for competitive sports programs or fitness and leisure.
- When HRM was asked about the future of other infrastructure including Centennial Pool (located in downtown Halifax ), they responded, “Centennial Pool is to be evaluated as per its future. Presently it is operated by a dedicated group of volunteers, but the facility requires adequate Capital investment.”
- The Centennial Rink Commission is considering the need to replace or to add to the Centennial Arena in order to better serve the area. The current rink is 35 years old.
Option C+, Phase I
A slight improvement from Option B; still not enough
On December 8, HRM was to reveal which of the three facility options presented at the October 19 meeting they were proceeding with (Option A, Option B, or Option C). Instead, Councillors unveiled new plans consisting of a two-phase approach. This option was called Option C+.
While the overall C+ plan was considered an upgrade from Option C, much of the necessary components beyond a swimming pool were deferred to phase II with the fund raising burden of $8-million total placed entirely on the community. In actual fact, Phase I was only a slight upgrade from the original Option B which Build it Right has steadfastly maintained is not adequate for the community.
Side by Side Comparison
Below is a side by side comparison of Option C+, Phase I and HRM’s previous Option B.
** Current Plan **
Option C+ Phase I
Estimated area: 30,000 square feet
Estimated cost $9,500,00
Six lanes – 25meter – 4’6″ maximum depth
Leisure Pool – under 3’6″ deep
Deep Water Pool –12′-0″ deep
Estimated Area: 25,100 square feet
Estimated Cost $8,000,000
Four lanes – 25meter – over 2’11” deep
Leisure Pool – Under 2’11” deep
Dryland – 1,850 square feet
Our Assessment of the Current Plans
Build it Right did not support Option A, Option B, or Option C as presented to the public on October 19, 2005. These plans are no longer on the table. In particular, we supported a broader vision for a community recreation and active living facility located in the Mainland Common as we felt Option A, Option B, and Option C were all insufficient to meet the growing needs of the community it would service.
Option C+ – Bait and Switch
Build it Right has many concerns with the current proposal: Option C+. In essence, we do not believe there were many differences between the options presented on October 19 (Option A, B, and C), and the overall facility plan presented on December 8 (Option C+). While there is a loose commitment to build a multi-purpose facility, there are significant unanswered questions on how the facility will be built. In particular, phasing and fund raising continue to be our primary apprehensions.
Build it Right supports a phased approach to construct an adequate facility. However, we strongly believe the first phase should be built to service our community’s immediate needs. Phase I of Option C+ is merely a slight improvement of Option B, which previously deemed unacceptable. Furthermore, Phase I of Option C+ is not significantly larger than Northcliffe Pool, and does not include desired dry-land components such as a fitness centre, meeting rooms, youth centre, gymnasiums or field house, squash courts, an ice rink, etc.
Phase II of Option C+ comes with a significant fund-raising burden of $5 million, and is not planned to open until December 2010. When complete, the total facility will consist of a lap pool that is no larger than Northcliffe, but will include several facility components the community currently does not have. While this is an improvement from what is currently available to the community, it does not go far enough.
Desired: Option C++ in one phase
Build it Right’s primary concern with phasing is the uncertainty of completing future phases once a first phase is built. In accordance with our broader facility vision, we believe that with some minor adjustments, a facility sized similar to Option C+ is a good first phase and should be constructed all at once.