Province, HRM Reach Convention Centre Agreement

The province and Halifax Regional Municipality have reached an agreement on a new convention centre that will create thousands of jobs and new economic development opportunities across the province.

"This is a major milestone in the growth of our province," said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Bill Estabrooks. "A new convention centre means jobs for Nova Scotians, new business for industry, and more opportunities to showcase Nova Scotia to visitors from around the world."

"We are pleased that we are in agreement on terms and conditions that will allow HRM and the province to present a unified pitch for federal funding to make this long-awaited project happen for the benefit of the downtown, the entire region, and the province," said Mayor Peter Kelly. "This is great day for our municipality."

Under the agreement, the province and HRM will each contribute about $56 million toward capital construction costs, and cost share equally on any operational costs not covered by revenue generated by convention centre operations. An agreement is required from the federal government to contribute the remaining one-third of eligible construction costs, a lump-sum payment to the developer when the new centre is substantially complete.

Property taxes will be treated as a shared cost between the province and HRM, with the current property tax on the existing convention centre used to determine the taxes for the new one. Beginning in 2015-16, the amount payable will increase at the lesser of the rate of inflation or two per cent annually.

When the new centre is complete, HRM has agreed to buy the existing convention centre at the book value, if the province is not able to sell it before then.

The 25-year lease agreement will include options for two, five-year extensions and public purchase.

Construction of a new convention centre will generate $9.5 million in provincial tax revenue. An additional $40 million in provincial tax revenues would be generated during the first 10 years of operation.

"This agreement delivers good value for taxpayers and is an important step forward for the project and our province," said Mr. Estabrooks.

"Our urban core needs the kind of serious, strategic public investment that began with an iconic new central library and continues today with an agreement between two levels of government that solidifies a commitment to a new convention centre. This an example of public investment that will spur private investment downtown," said Mayor Kelly.

The new convention centre will be three times larger than the existing centre, with 115,000 square feet of rentable space and 51,000 square feet of reception space. With larger, more flexible space, it is estimated that during the first 10 years of operation, the convention centre will host 6,800 events with more than two million visitors. Construction on the new centre would begin in spring 2011 and be complete by the end of 2014.

In October, the province accepted the Rank Inc. proposal to build a new convention centre and began discussions on a funding partnership with the federal government and Halifax Regional Municipality. The province and municipality will now establish a negotiating committee to secure federal participation in the project.

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