Residents can now enjoy winter skating on the Halifax Common for years to come. This evening Halifax Regional Council approved a recommendation that a permanent skating Oval be installed on the North Common in the same location as the hugely popular Canada Games Oval.
Final required capital and operating budget amounts for the Oval will be included in the proposed 2011/12 Project and Operating Budget and subject to final authorization by Council. The Budget will be tabled in April.
Approximately 100,000 people visited the Oval between December and March with daily attendance numbers at 3,500 – 5,000 people. Now that staff has approval from Council, work will begin to plan for site modifications to create a permanent surface for the ice and be ready for a December 2011 opening. A concrete pad will be installed that can be used in the off-season for rollerblading or cycling by children. The centre of the Oval will be sodded and used for appropriate sports such as Frisbee and other informal activities.
Mayor Peter Kelly credits the people of HRM for the phenomenal success of the Oval.
“The people of HRM made it abundantly clear that we needed to make the Oval a permanent fixture,” said the Mayor. “It’s hard to deny the thousands of residents of all ages who laced up their skates or spent time at some of the recreational activities at the Oval.”
Several alternate locations for a permanent ice surface were explored. They include the Central Common, the Wanderers Grounds and the Garrison Grounds. The North Common remained the preferred choice for a number of reasons. It is a centrally located and high profile site, easily accessible on foot, transit and by vehicle, is surrounded by several large and relatively dense neighbourhoods and can accommodate large crowds.
A permanent Oval in this location will replace a ball field and a sport field used by soccer and ultimate Frisbee. HRM staff is working with sports groups to find alternate locations for this year and is also looking ahead to ensure long-term need is addressed.
The work to create a permanent facility will be divided into two phases. Phase one will happen this summer with basic ice surface preparations. The oval will be converted from a sand base to a concrete base and the infield will be turfed. The building housing the ice resurfacer will be relocated on the site and some site grading along the perimeter of the oval will be improved to better integrate with the remainder of the North Common.
Phase two will involve public consultation to seek feedback on the look and feel of the site, the character of proposed structures and whether or not buildings will be permanent or seasonal.
Council also authorized staff to accept donations to put towards the capital costs of making the Canada Games Oval permanent and provided direction to staff to entertain proposals for corporate naming rights and other commercial advertising at the Canada Games Oval.
To view the staff report online visit www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/110329cow3ii.pdf. For more information and updates on the Oval visit www.skatehrm.ca.