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Vote to decide future of potential CFL stadium back on Halifax council agenda

Click to play video: 'Motion aimed at killing Halifax stadium proposal deferred for two weeks' Motion aimed at killing Halifax stadium proposal deferred for two weeks
A motion aimed at killing a planned review by Halifax municipal staff of a $110-million stadium proposal by a group hoping to land a CFL franchise has been deferred for two weeks. Jesse Thomas joins us live from outside Halifax City Hall with that report. – Oct 8, 2019

A motion to decide the future of a proposed multi-use stadium in Shannon Park is set to come before Halifax Regional Council this week.

Council will revisit the motion by Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, on Tuesday after he pulled it off the agenda two weeks ago to allow all Halifax councillors to be present.

Paul Russell, the newly elected councillor for Lower Sackville, is due to be sworn-in before council begins, allowing him to take part in the debate.

The motion proposed by Austin asks Halifax Regional Council to rescind its motion asking staff to provide a detailed analysis of the $110-million, 24,000-seat stadium proposed by Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE).

The motion would also direct staff to “take no further action” on the proposal — with Austin telling Global News two weeks ago that it would “effectively kill” the stadium.

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“(The stadium) was never one of my main priorities,” he said, adding the proposal presented to the municipality was reliant on the stadium being publicly driven rather than being privately supported.

READ MORE: Motion coming before Halifax council would ‘effectively kill’ proposed CFL stadium

Two-thirds of council will need to vote in favour of Austin’s proposal in order for it to pass.

“It will take considerable staff time to complete a detailed analysis of the proposal,” wrote Austin in his request for council’s consideration.

“Now that the broad outline of what’s being asked is known, Council should clearly decide whether we want to commit the time and resources to advancing the analysis.”

Before the stadium could proceed, Halifax staff would’ve had to provide council with evaluations on the need, cost-benefit, risk, economic impact, partnership opportunities and current cost estimates of the project.

The staff report was expected to be presented in late winter or early spring. If Austin’s motion were to pass, it would end the review and kill the proposal.

Click to play video: 'Motion coming before Halifax council would ‘effectively kill’ proposed CFL stadium' Motion coming before Halifax council would ‘effectively kill’ proposed CFL stadium
Motion coming before Halifax council would ‘effectively kill’ proposed CFL stadium – Oct 5, 2019

The request for council to reconsider its previous decision comes after the proposal by SSE was made public last month.

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The proposal by SSE includes a number of funding options for the municipality, from an upfront cash payment of 15-20 per cent to an annual payment of $2 million with the expectation of getting money back through ticket sales.

The proposal says that some or all the funds needed to build the stadium would be generated from a tax incremental financing (TIF) model — a model that has been used to great effect in Ottawa and Edmonton.

READ MORE: Finance minister not ruling out federal money for CFL stadium

Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia University in Montreal, has told Global News that the idea of the model is basically to get public funding.

“It’s a model that a lot of sports franchises do (where public funding is given from) a portion of any property tax that’s generated by the surrounding development that comes after the stadium is built,” Lander explained.

Currently, there are no houses or restaurants in Shannon Park, but SSE sees the potential for a commercial district being created once the stadium is built.

Parking at the location would also be limited under SSE’s proposal. Only 361 general parking spots with an additional 58 spots for VIP are included in the proposal. But it estimates about 10,000 people will attend games by taking public transit.

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Ahsan Habib, an associate professor with Dalhousie’s school of planning, told Global News earlier this week that the municipality’s current infrastructure is not prepared to accommodate high volumes of traffic at one time.

READ MORE: Group trying to land CFL franchise in Halifax submits business plan to city

A transit system would need to be established in the area to accommodate the increase in traffic.

According to the proposal, the CFL has guaranteed that SSE will host at least one Grey Cup in the team’s first 10 years of existence.

“The economic and social impact that a Grey Cup would have on HRM and Atlantic Canada is immense,” the proposal stated.

Halifax Regional Council is set to convene at 1 p.m. on Oct. 22.

—With files from Alicia Draus and Aya Al-Hakim

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