1. Nova Centre
“Coping with a drop in revenue due to construction of the Nova Centre, several downtown businesses have launched legal action to recoup their losses,” reports Remo Zaccagna for Local Xpress:
The businesses have retained the Wagners law firm to obtain thousands of dollars in compensation under the provincial Expropriation Act, which allows for a claim for injurious affection.
Construction of the $500-million Nova Centre began in January 2013, with the publicly funded convention centre originally slated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2015.
But a harsh winter was one of several factors that led to delays in construction, with Argyle Developments Inc., owned by developer Joe Ramia of Rank Inc., now aiming to hand over the convention centre to provincial Crown corporation Trade Centre Ltd. in February 2017.
Downtown businesses, faced with a dwindling customer base, cannot wait that long to reap the benefits of a completed facility, lawyer Ray Wagner said.
“The problem is that these businesses have tried to survive during that period of time, have tried to put up with all the disruption that has been caused to their business because of the construction and the various delays and all the activity that has been going on.”
So far, the Wooden Monkey, the Carleton, and Attica have signed on with Wagner.
I know I’m a naysayer and all, but I’m wondering whether that February completion date will actually be met. It looks like the convention centre and office building part of the complex will probably be completed by then, but I’m not so sure about the hotel part.
Isn’t it strange that an operator of the hotel hasn’t been announced? The thing is supposed to open just seven months from now.
I’ve been calling around to organizations that have booked conventions in the new convention centre, asking them about their plans. Of the organizations that have talked with me, none had any information at all about the hotel — they don’t know if they’ll be staying at the hotel above the convention centre, or who will be operating it.
It appears that the Halifax Convention Centre is selling package deals that include rental of the convention centre and set room rates for delegates, and whatever company decides to operate the hotel will have to accept those room rates. And if the hotel isn’t completed or if the Marriot and other hotel chains pass on the deal, I suppose the booked room rates will be sold to other nearby hotels.
This is odd. Organizations are booking conventions without an inkling of where their delegates will stay. They don’t even get a brochure showing an imagined room.
On the convention centre side, I wonder if the package deals might amount to a backdoor subsidy for a hotel chain. That is, a chain might demand higher rates than have been promised to the organizations, so Halifax Convention Centre might make up the difference by in effect shifting some of the rental fee for the convention centre over to the hotel operator.
That’s just speculation, but again: we’re talking just seven months from now.
Also, periodically I call over to City Hall and ask about Scott Ferguson’s $10 million tunnel. I’m told that the kibosh has been put on the tunnel idea. The new plan is that convention delegates who don’t stay in the hotel that may or may not exist above the convention centre will stay at some other hotel and get to their conventions via the pedway system. They’ll stay warm and dry until they get through the crappiest part of the pedway system — those dank, confusing tunnels that connect Scotia Square, the existing convention centre, and the Prince George Hotel — and then they’ll be kicked out onto the street and have to, horrors!, walk the last block in the elements. But somehow or another, some design feature will be added to Grafton Street or Argyle Street — nobody’s clear about this — that will protect the fragile conventioneers from the rain but won’t block the view of the harbour down Prince Street.
Government never gets anything done in a mere seven months, so I’m guessing this is just all talk.
I suggest we call the block-long dash through the rain the “Scott Ferguson Memorial Walk.”
1. Yarmouthian cat
Stephen Archibald has some allegedly famous Victorian-era photos of Fir Bank, the home of Yarmouth lawyer Robert Caie and his wife Sophia Killam. That’s neither here nor there, because, as Archibald explains:
You get the sense that every element in the rooms has been carefully selected. I’ve gone over it all with a magnifying glass and realized there is nothing I’d want in my home today, with one exception: a stuffed toy cat sitting at Mr Caie’s feet.
2. Icon Bay and the Home Children
Icon Bay is that giant apartment building that was recently built across from the Fairview container terminal. I kind of vaguely knew the history of the area — I stumbled on a plaque commemorating the d’Anville Expedition while wandering around the Bedford Basin last summer (always read the plaque!). But today, Ron Foley MacDonald goes into great detail:
Once upon a time a French Aristocrat was sent by France to conquer Halifax. His name was Jean-Baptiste Louis Frédéric de La Rochefoucauld de Roye, Duc d’Anville. He and his expedition were a bit of a disaster. They almost all died, with their fleet stuck in Bedford Basin, afflicted by various health problems, including typhus and scurvy, and hammered by storms on the crossing. Hundreds died on the voyage alone, and many more perished when they finally arrived, including d’Anville himself, who suffered a stroke six days after bringing what was left of his fleet into the harbour. The dead are buried, for the most part, at the very site where Icon Bay has arisen. Talk about your bad karma.
The statistics on the d’Anville Expedition are astounding. The fleet was comprised of 64 ships with 11,000 men, and was to be supported by a force of 1,300 sent from Quebec and also drawn from local native allies and Acadian settlers. The plan was to retake Annapolis Royal and then move on to attack Boston. It all ended in disaster, and by the time what was left of the French fleet returned to France in October without achieving any of their objectives thousands had died, including hundreds of Mi’kmaq allies infected by disease.
As for the ghosts of d’Anville’s men, they may at least have some entertainment in the giant Icon Bay complex. The website for the building promises “theatre rooms” and “workout areas” along with a perky picture of a possible tenant with a fluffy puppy: “Icon Bay is Pet Friendly!”
I hope it is also ghost friendly, because there is a second set of ghosts haunting the site!
From 1869 until the 1940s, the Icon Bay area was the repository for Canada’s Home Children, who came to Canada as part of the child migration scheme founded by Annie MacPherson in 1869, under which more than 100,000 children were sent from the United Kingdom to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
This plan resulted in four million Canadians having Home Children family connections today, but it separated siblings, broke up families, and sent defenseless children into often horrifying conditions. Boys were prized for heavy farm labour, and were often fed scraps and forced to sleep in barns with the animals. Girls were kept for domestic service. While some were treated well, the majority lived grim and unhappy lives until they were released at the age of majority, usually with no payment for their work.
The Home Children were the subject of a conference last week at Halifax’s Pier 21 Immigration Museum. There is a national society devoted to their history, and it is a cause worth considering. Both Australia and Britain have taken responsibility for the plan — Gordon Brown’s tenure as Prime Minister featured his heartfelt and very articulate apology — but so far Canada has not deemed the issue of the Home Children worthy of an official apology or recognition. In Australia, where the plan actually ran on, unbelievably, until the late 1960s, the Home Children have become a cause celebre, known as the “Forgotten Australians.”
Speaking of Jupiter (which I do below), we’re going there:
Halifax & West Community Council (6pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. WM Fares wants to build an eight-storey apartment building at Maynard and Roberts Streets; the council should reject the proposal if only because Fares submitted the above architectural rendering, which shows an impossible view of the building, unless the developer is also proposing to tear down the block opposite the building, paint the adjacent building all white, plant a four-storey tall tree that does not now exist, and import a sky found only on Europa, the moon of Jupiter.
No public meetings.
No campus events.
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
8:40am: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 3,006 passengers
10:30am: Ningbo Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
Noon: Atlantic Huron, bulker, sails from National Gypsum to sea
4:30pm: Fritz Reuter, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Leixoes, Portugal
7pm: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
Midnight: Ningbo Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4:30am: Fritz Reuter, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
6:30am: Norwegian Breakaway, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from New York with up to 4,500 passengers
10:30am: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John with up to 2,446 passengers
5pm: Norwegian Breakaway, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
7pm: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Baltimore
7am: Oakland Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
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