HALIFAX—Demolishing and rebuilding the Halifax Discussion board is the easiest way to enhance it. For recreation, for the road in addition to for heritage, ranging from scratch is the fitting transfer.

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The Discussion board was Canada’s first synthetic rink east of Montreal to host a hockey recreation. However it’s in tough form. The roof wants a substitute and the partitions nonetheless want work. The ice surfaces additionally should be expanded to fulfill NHL requirements.

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The municipality is facing a $60-million price tag to make renovations to the aging Halifax Forum. Tristan Cleveland argues that money would be better spent elsewhere.
The municipality is dealing with a $60-million price ticket to make renovations to the getting older Halifax Discussion board. Tristan Cleveland argues that cash can be higher spent elsewhere.  (StarMetro file)

In 2014, Halifax regional council voted to hold out the renovations due to the constructing’s heritage, fairly than constructing a brand new one for much less. However final week, metropolis employees advised councillors that possibility can be significantly dear. At $60 million, it will price about the identical because the Central Library.

If it weren’t for heritage, rebuilding the Discussion board would clearly be the fitting selection. A brand new design might higher meet our present recreation wants. By transferring it barely north, it might exchange cracked pavement on the nook of Windsor and Younger streets, defining that necessary intersection with a placing new constructing.

The transfer would additionally open up land to the south, on the nook of Windsor and Almon, which town might promote to assist pay for the Discussion board. Improvement there would carry avenue life and prospects to a major space for development. And town would be capable to lastly slice up that large block with new streets, making it higher for strolling.

So, is the heritage worth of that constructing price tens of millions of {dollars} and so many misplaced alternatives?

Councillor Richard Zurawski doesn’t assume so. “Let’s take a stick of dynamite, blow it up and transfer on,” he advised council on Tuesday. He referred to as for “trendy buildings for a contemporary metropolis.”

I agree with Zurawski that we should always blow up the constructing however for totally totally different causes. We do want to guard heritage in Halifax, and losing cash on this constructing shouldn’t be the way in which to do it.

Trendy buildings too usually appear to be they may have been constructed wherever on the planet. If that’s all Halifax had, folks would have little cause to go to. New cities would kill to have the form of heritage we do, as a result of they know it will assist them entice residents and vacationers. We must always acknowledge and defend the worth of what we have now.

However we should always ask if the Discussion board is the very best place to spend tens of millions on heritage. Dozens of heritage buildings in Schmidtville, South Barrington and Hydrostone badly want restoration. I doubt the Discussion board higher represents Halifax.

In line with a report back to council, the Discussion board obtained heritage registration “primarily based primarily on its social historical past and its famous architect, Andrew Cobb.” Does anybody go to the Discussion board to see one of many first (however not the primary) synthetic rinks and Cobb’s work? Maybe a handful of individuals do, however for everybody else, these details are invisible. For many of us, they’re frankly irrelevant.

To succeed at something, we should be clear on our priorities. If we care about heritage, we should always prioritize these components that contribute most to a novel sense of place — and which means the seen components. Social historical past solely provides to the worth of a constructing the place one thing really extraordinary occurred.

Heritage buildings ought to contribute to the persona of the road, however the Discussion board really detracts from it. For 160 metres — longer than most metropolis blocks — the constructing presents an totally clean wall to Windsor St. Blowing up the Discussion board will enable us to create an energetic, engaging avenue to be pleased with.

Council voted to ask for a cost-benefit evaluation of assorted choices, so that they nonetheless have time to make the fitting selection. All thought-about, Halifax ought to take items of the Discussion board’s facade and reassemble them on a brand new constructing. It will be a cost-appropriate method to current a visual sense of historical past.

And council ought to make investments the financial savings in defending heritage buildings elsewhere of far higher worth.

Tristan Cleveland is a Halifax-based columnist and metropolis planner. Comply with him on Twitter: @Lurbaniste



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