© Jeff Harper - Metro Halifax
Hundreds of residents turned out to a public meeting to tell the Halifax Forum’s board of directors in no uncertain terms that the elderly facility must be saved from demolition.
“This is not just hockey. This is for everything… this is home,” said long-time Forum user Jill Webb to applause during a public meeting Wednesday night.
City staffers are recommending demolishing the Forum in order to build a new four-pad arena in nearby Windsor Park.
However, chairman of the Halifax Forum Community Association George Findlay told the large crowd the board had developed a proposal to revitalize the Forum by adding a new NHL-sized rink, enlarging the existing two rinks, and adding a new gymnasium for community use – all for $6 million less than the estimated cost of the new four-pad.
“There’s going to be a lot of development happening here,” said Coun. Jennifer Watts. “The type of resource the Forum can offer…is the opportunity to be an effective community hub.”
The phrase “more than just a rink” was a common refrain among residents, who said a four-pad can’t also host concerts, trade shows, bingo nights, craft fairs and other sports events.
The Forum’s rich history came up often – as did its ongoing importance to peninsula residents.
“Heritage is great, but also, the future,” said Heather Chamberlin, a member of the Anchor City Rollers roller derby squad – one of several sports organizations currently without practice space. “All the young families who are involved in this, all the young people such as myself who are involved in the city – we need space that’s community-oriented.”
Watts and fellow peninsular councillors Waye Mason and Linda Mosher told the crowd they’re against demolition, prompting strategizing about getting nine more votes around the council table.
“We all have to leave this room, we have to hit Facebook, social media, we’ve gotta flood the councillors who aren’t here,” said one of the final speakers. “Those are the people you have to speak to.”
Coun. Linda Mosher urged Forum supporters to send written correspondence to the city clerks’ office at firstname.lastname@example.org with a request to have it distributed to all of council.