On a sunny day, a speed skater with their arms tucked behind them skates on the oval. There's piles of snow in the background, and a sign on a fence in the foreground: "Emera Oval."
A skater at the Halifax skating oval in February 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

The municipality wants to sell naming rights to the skating oval to Emera again, but it’s not telling the public how much Nova Scotia Power’s parent company will pay.

The 400-metre speed skating track was originally meant to be temporary, installed for the Canada Games in 2011. The municipality decided to make the facility permanent in response to public demand and a successful fundraising campaign. The municipality added the pavilion building in 2015, with washrooms and free equipment rentals.

Halifax regional council first voted in 2011 to sell the naming rights to Emera for $500,000 for five years, with an automatic five-year renewal on the same terms. That agreement expired at the end of 2021, but both parties agreed to extend to April 30, 2022.

In a staff report coming to council’s meeting on Tuesday, parks and recreation area manager Shawna Shirley wrote that there was “an option to renew the extension on a month-to-month basis beyond April 30, 2022, if required.” But Shirley didn’t indicate whether it was extended, or what Emera paid between January 1 and now.

HRM originally sold the naming rights to the “events plaza” at the oval to Molson Coors Canada for five years for $400,000, but the beer company didn’t renew after the first five years. Shirley recommended rolling both naming rights into the same contract this time.

“The Emera Oval is a known brand within the community. The agreement that has been in place for the past 10 years with Emera has been mutually beneficial and has resulted in positive brand recognition for the sponsor,” Shirley wrote.

“Entering into a new agreement with Emera has the potential to enhance the facility and its services for users for many years to come. For example, the amount and variety of accessible pieces of equipment the public can use free of charge to participate year-round could be increased beyond the current business planning purchase and replacement schedule.”

Emera “expressed interest” in another contract, Shirley wrote, “and is in agreement with HRM’s key negotiation objectives.” Those “objectives” — and all the terms of the agreement including its length and the price — are in an in camera report.

There was no tender process to solicit bids for naming rights, but Shirley wrote that HRM “contracted an external consultant, Performance Sponsorship Group, to provide expertise in determining a value for the naming rights for the Oval and Events Plaza.”

“The proposed naming rights payment included as part of HRM’s Key Negotiation Objectives equals or exceeds the market valuation,” Shirley wrote.

The process meets the requirements of council’s administrative order governing the sale of naming rights, according to Shirley.

Under the “community engagement” section of the report, Shirley wrote: “The sale of naming rights is a confidential process, so community engagement was not required.”

The motion before council is to not release the in camera report “until the naming rights agreement has been executed, and then only to the extent required by law.”

The motion is on the consent agenda, meaning councillors won’t necessarily debate the proposal before voting.


Subscribe to the Halifax Examiner

We have many other subscription options available, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. “The Emera Oval is a known brand within the community. The agreement that has been in place for the past 10 years with Emera has been mutually beneficial and has resulted in positive brand recognition for the sponsor,” Shirley wrote.

    The Oval may have had a positive brand effect on Emera but its other major subsidiary in NS – NSPI – has had the opposite effect!

    Let’s just call it “The Common Oval” and fund and run it as a good public service should be funded and run.