After the provincial government released a tender for its controversial hospital parkade, regional council wants a presentation on the plan to build on the city’s land.
The province wants to build a seven-storey, 900-space parkade next to the Museum of Natural History on Summer St. as part of the QEII Hospital project. The new parkade will make up for the loss of the one on Robie St., which will be torn down to make way for a new hospital building.
Coun. Waye Mason has been a vocal opponent of the parking garage plan since it was announced last fall, warning it will damage what’s left of the Halifax Common and encroach on the Wanderers Grounds.
After Mason sent a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil on Monday asking for the province to release the plans publicly, the department of transportation and public works issued a tender for the work on Tuesday.
The detailed drawings released with the tender show about 3,900 square metres of the land being used is provincial, and about 2,600 square metres is municipal. Part of that municipal land is in use by the Bengal Lancers horse-riding school for its paddock and part by the Wanderers Grounds and HFX Wanderers FC for its entrance.
“The parkade will have up to 900 parking spaces and sit on the current parking lot of the Museum of Natural History,” the province said in a news release on Tuesday.
“A small portion of land, about a half-acre, owned by Halifax Regional Municipality is needed to build the replacement parkade. This will not be built on recreational space.”
“Clearly when 40% of the land is HRM land that they have to buy from us that’s just nonsense, and disingenuous at best and straight-up fabrication at worst,” Mason told the Examiner after Tuesday’s council’s meeting.
“If you’re gonna make stuff up you’ve got to do a better job than that.”
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, council passed a motion from Mason directing Mayor Mike Savage to write to the provincial government a letter asking for a representative to make a presentation to council during open session on its plans for the parkade.
“It would be nice if they came forward with what the actual master plan is,” Mason said.
Mason believes there are other parking structures and other encroachments on the Common planned.
“There’s more to this, and they should be fully public and transparent with what their plan is.”
The province can expropriate the land if Halifax won’t agree to a sale or swap, but Mason said it still faces hurdles with respect to the Bengal Lancers’ paddock.
The Lancers facility is a registered heritage property, and the paddock is a character-defining element, meaning the province would have to apply to make a substantial alteration to a heritage property and get council’s approval.
“The province may think that we’re going to just sell this to them next week, but that’s not possible. Even if we do, they can’t make the changes until it goes through a statutory process that they would need the legislature to override,” Mason said.
The province’s public accounts committee meets Wednesday morning to discuss the QEII New Generation Project.