Municipal staff are recommending Halifax regional council add millions to the capital budget to revitalize the Sackville Sports Stadium (SSS).
The facility on Glendale Drive in Lower Sackville was built in 1989, with an addition in 2000. Council asked for a staff report in 2021 on potential upgrades.
That report, by stadium general manager Greg MacIsaac; building infrastructure manager Darren Young; and community planner Meaghan Dalton*, is coming to council on Tuesday.
MacIsaac, Young, and Dalton recommended $30.45 million in upgrades to the facility, budgeted starting in fiscal 2027-2028. If the motion passes, staff will develop a formal revitalization plan.
Upgrades would include a full-size gymnasium; a new walking track; a boat launch and floating dock on First Lake; locker room renovations; parking lot redevelopment; retiling the pool deck; and updates to accessibility and building systems.
“These updates and additions to the facility would maintain state of good repair and enhance the access to programs and services for the community,” MacIsaac, Young, and Dalton wrote.
“With no significant upgrade or operating model redesign, SSS could suffer from decreasing levels of customer use and satisfaction as it continues to age. Failing to be responsive to changing demographics and recreation facility re-design could reduce interest in the SSS for existing and new customers. To achieve a more inclusive and accessible delivery model that will continue to grow and service the municipality, the facility requires significant upgrades in multiple systems and in program delivery areas.”
Councillor happy with plan
Coun. Paul Russell, representing District 15 — Lower Sackville, said it’s a long time coming.
“It’s certainly due. Sackville itself is the hub of the surrounding area,” Russell said.
“To be able to offer this facility in the heart of it would would just make things so much better.”
Russell said the plan fits what he’s heard from the community.
“When I was canvassing in 2020, there was a high call for basketball and other facilities. There has been a call for a walking track,” Russell said.
He was happy to see staff recommend lake access, too. There are, Russell said, “ad hoc” boat launches around the lake now.
“It would be better to have one that is owned and maintained and managed by HRM so that we eliminate issues with that,” Russell said.
“And we’ve got this lake right by the sports stadium, so it would make all the sense in the world to be able to offer some programming in the lake.”
The report is based on the municipality’s public engagement, including more than 2,000 survey responses. Those are higher numbers, Russell said, than HRM sees in most other areas.
“Ninety-seven percent of respondents supported municipal investment in the SSS revitalization,” MacIsaac, Young, and Dalton wrote.
Survey respondents highlighted an indoor walking track, new pool features, and a full-size gymnasium as their highest priorities.
No 50-metre pool
One upgrade missing from the plan is the inclusion of a 50-metre pool, which was identified in the engagement. The pool at the stadium is 25 metres. Russell said the larger competition-ready pool would be nice to have, but it’s not realistic.
“We are in an amazing spot geographically,” Russell said, arguing people from Halifax and Dartmouth can easily access the area.
“To have a 50-metre pool that is easily accessible would be fantastic. But when you say a 50-metre pool, you’re talking about a 50-metre pool plus a 25-metre pool, plus all sorts of seating … and that is a major reconfiguration of the sports stadium and it pushes it closer to the water.”
There’s already $2.25 million budgeted in the capital plan for the project. The report recommended adding $28.2 million starting in fiscal 2027-2028. Russell said he expects the work to happen around 2030.
“It’s about time, and if we run the course of the report through, it’ll be about 30 years between one expansion and the next,” Russell said.
Sooner would be better, Russell said.
“The reality is that will take a huge push to make that happen. And I’m not sure that the appetite is there,” Russell said.
The price tag is in line with the cost of the Zatzman Sportsplex renovation, which came in at $28 million.
The Sackville Sports Stadium report is on the consent agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. That means if no councillor asks to remove it, the motion will pass without debate. Russell said he won’t move to debate the motion.
Disclosure: Dalton is the reporter’s sister-in-law.