June 17, 2014 12:27 pm

Halifax Forum future in doubt as city looks to add multi-surface arenas

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HALIFAX – Union workers at the Halifax Forum say a city staff recommendation to tear down the facility and build a new complex will leave local residents underserved.

Staff told council the property and attached buildings should be sold to pay for a new $45-million arena with four ice surfaces — a “four-pad” — at nearby Windsor Park in conjunction with CFB Halifax.

Halifax North Coun. Jennifer Watts said one of the rinks at the new facility would be for use by the military, leaving three available.

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Forum workers say it won’t be enough to meet the needs of the community.

“It doesn’t provide the same level of service to the residents,” said Mike Young, president of CUPE Local 108. “The [Halifax Forum] does approximately 15 trade shots a month. Those will be gone — they won’t go to a four-pad arena.”

The Halifax Forum Community Association is proposing instead to add a third rink where the Multi-Purpose  Centre now stands. Watts said it would also include a walking track, a gym for sports such as ball hockey and community rooms. She said facility rental fees could provide income to the city.

Young said the Forum is one of the most affordable rentals “because the bingo [events] offset the cost.”

The association’s proposal also calls for the ice surface to be enlarged to the standard size of 200 feet long and 85 feet across, to eliminate pillars that block audience sightlines, to give the brickwork a facelift, and to open the windows.

The Forum, which has been open since 1927, has a deep connection with the city’s history, including the Halifax Wolverines, a team that won an Allan Cup, and the American Hockey League champion Nova Scotia Voyageurs.

Both Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities play in the 5,000-seat Forum and would need new home arenas if it were demolished — ones with more seating than the rinks at a four-pad would provide.

A public consultation to discuss the Forum’s future will be held at the arena on July 2.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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