HALIFAX – The municipality has unveiled new designs for Fort Needham Park in Halifax’s North End but not everyone is happy about the revamps.
The plans include more commemorative designs around the bell tower, including a memorial plaza, a stairway of remembrance and a walkway called “the shattered path”.
The designs are meant to better remember the Halifax explosion and honour its victims.
Other changes include moving the baseball diamond and football field to the east to accommodate for a new walkway on the west side of the park, re-grading different sections of the park so entrances are not as steep and creating more new garden and plaza spaces. The plans include a sensory playground, urban orchards and a community garden area.
The plans come with a $7.9 million price tag, which Koziak Roberts said is the result of the commemorative and interpretive pieces that would not normally appear in a regular neighbourhood park.
Worries from dog lovers
Watts said the biggest concern she is hearing from residents is potential changes to the park’s off-leash dog area. That is up in the air while the municipality reviews its off-leash dog strategy.
Patti Bruce has lived beside the park for 20 years and takes her dog there often.
She is a fan of all the changes but said removing the off-leash dog park would be a bad idea.
“That would be horrible,” she said.
“There’s no off-leash dog parks around. If they take away this one, that leaves the entire North End with no off-leash park.”
Michael Abraham has lived beside the park his whole life and said he spent time there every day when he was growing up.
However, he is skeptical of the changes that have been proposed.
“The memorial is simple. It’s there. It serves the purpose,” he said.
“I think the park is just great the way it is. I’m not trying to be negative about it but I don’t see the point.”
Abraham also has concerns about what may happen if there is higher traffic to the park as a result of the changes.
“When there’s sa football practice and you’re talking a few dozen kids, there’s no parking on the street. There’s no space. The city, I don’t believe, is prepared to support an increase in the population of the park,” he said.
The plans will now go to the Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee before making its way to Regional Council.
If approved, the expected completion date will be December 2017, which is the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion.