Looking North on the North Common
|Location||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
|Operated by||City of Halifax|
The Halifax Common, in local popular usage more often referred to as the Commons, is a Canadian urban park in the community of Halifax in Nova Scotia's Halifax Regional Municipality. It is Canada’s oldest urban park, with the North Common and the Central Common still in use as a public park area.
The Halifax Common was originally a lightly forested swampy area which formed the source of Freshwater Brook which flowed into Halifax Harbour near the site of today's Pier 21. The Common was created by surveyors following the settling of Halifax in 1749. The Halifax Common was created to serve three purposes. The first was to provide pasturage for horses and livestock, both by the military garrison and the citizens of Halifax. The second was to create a large area in which regiments stationed and in transit through Halifax could set up camps. The third and final reason was to provide clear fields of fire for the garrison of the Halifax Citadel, so that invading forces would have no cover in the event of an assault on the fort.
Originally, the Halifax Common stretched from Cunard Street, the current northern boundary of the North Common, south to the southern edge of the Saint Mary's University campus, with its eastern boundary at North Park, Ahern, Bell Road, and South Park, and Robie Street in to the west. During the 1800s, the city expanded in all directions, and some of this development encroached on the Common. Residential development spread up Spring Garden Road, cutting the Common in half. In addition, civic institutions were established on the Common, in keeping with its use as a public space. The Common became home to the Public Gardens, Camp Hill Cemetery and Camp Hill Hospital, Saint Mary's University, Dalhousie University, the Civic, Victoria General, IWK and Grace hospitals, Citadel High School, Gorsebrook Junior, and Inglis Street schools, as well as other parks, play sets, ball diamonds and fountains.
The North Common contains several soft ball[disambiguation needed] diamonds, and a large fountain near the centre. It is larger than the Central Common, and is much more empty and open, making it suitable for organized sporting and recreation events. A public washroom was recently built on Cunard St.
The Central Common has more large fields, tennis courts, a soccer field, an outdoor city-owned swimming pool, skateboarding facilities, and a smaller fountain.
Playgrounds were recently replaced on the Central Common, because of concerns due to toxicity levels in the soil beneath the playground. Arsenic from playground wood that had been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA, which has since been discontinued in playground use in Halifax) had leached from the playground wood, into the soil.
Near the Cogswell street side of the Common is The Halifax Pavilion. The Pavilion is an all ages venue that showcases many different genres of music.
A portion of the Halifax Common has been temporarily converted into a 400-metre oval track, to host speed skating events in the Canadian Masters Championships, January 15–16, 2011 and the 2011 Canada Games, February 11–27, 2011. The oval is slated to be removed in March 2011. After initial delays opening, caused by unseasonably warm temperatures in HRM, the oval opened to tremendous response from the community. Hundreds of people have come out each day, for free skating, with some estimates placing attendance as high as 2000 people in a single day. Due to the overwhelming response, former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly called for the fixture to be made permanent.
The Halifax Common is centrally located on the Halifax peninsula, about a five minute walk to and from Downtown Halifax.
The square-shaped North Common is bordered by Cunard Street to the north, North Park street to the east, Cogswell street to the south, and Robie Street to the west. The Central Common is triangle shaped and is bordered by Cogswell Street to the north, Bell Road to the south-west, and Trollope Street to the south-east.
The Common is now a popular outdoor concert venue for the Halifax region. With its central location, it has direct walking access (approx. five to ten minutes walking east on Cogswell Street or Rainnie Drive) to Downtown Halifax and the Barrington Street Metro Transit public transit terminal, with services providing connections to the rest of the city, the Halifax harbour ferry connecting with Downtown Dartmouth and Woodside, as well as the new Bus Rapid Transit service MetroLink. During these shows, concert express and shuttle buses run directly to and from Common Park from various locations and are designated to operate along with the regular service Metro Transit offers.
|Date||Event Name||Performers||Event Attendance|
|1983||Royal Visit||Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales||est. 30,000–40,000|
|1984||Papal Visit||Pope John Paul II||80,000|
|September 23, 2006||A Bigger Bang Tour||Rolling Stones, Kanye West, Alice Cooper, Sloan||55,000|
|August 30, 2008||Country Rocks 2008||Keith Urban, Charlie Major, Johnny Reid, Aaron Pritchett, Gretchen Wilson, Jimmy Rankin, Great Big Sea||
paid attendance 11,853
|July 11, 2009||Paul McCartney Live on the Common||Paul McCartney, Joel Plaskett, Wintersleep, Sierra Noble||paid attendance of 26,504 |
|July 18, 2009||Halifax Rocks 2009||KISS, Thornley, The Trews, Econoline Crush, The Novaks, Children of Eve, Frankie Whyte||paid attendance of 21,402|
|June 24–28, 2010||Grand Chief Membertou 400 (Mawiomi Pow-wow) & Royal Visit||Royal Visit by Queen Elizabeth II, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Schedule of events||Unknown|
|July 24, 2010||Halifax Rocks 2010||The Black Eyed Peas, Weezer, Classified, Hot Hot Heat, Rich Aucoin, The Jimmy Swift Band, The Stanfields, Chad Hatcher||paid attendance of 8,362 |
|August 6 & 7 2010||Country Rocks 2010||Aug 6: Johnny Reid, George Canyon, One More Girl Aug 7: Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, Kevin Costner and Modern West, Lonestar||-|
|January 15, 16 2011||Canadian Masters Championships||Canada Games Oval||-|
|February 11–27, 2011||2011 Canada Games.||Canada Games Oval- long track speed skating competitions .||- Future-|
- In 1983, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales were greeted by a large crowd on the Common during a visit to Halifax.
- In 1984, 80,000 faithful attended a service by Pope John Paul II at the Common.
- The Rolling Stones played on the Common as part of their A Bigger Bang Tour. It was the largest concert the city has ever undertaken at the time, and a test-run for more concerts in the future. With an attendance of approx 55,000, the event was considered a success.
- June/July 2009: In preparation for the upcoming events season on the Common, the City of Halifax invested a great amount of effort and money into preparing the Common for the concerts and future events. Ground preparation, amenities, grass seeding were all part of the effort to cut down on damaging effects from heavy equipment and foot traffic during the large events.
- July 11, a performance by Paul McCartney drew a reported crowd of 50,000 to the Common.
- Grand Chief Membertou is a 4 day event held to celebrate the life and inspiration of Mi'kmaq saqamaw Henri Membertou.
- Queen Elizabeth II's Royal visit to Canada began in Halifax and during her first afternoon in the city had stopped at the Common to experience and take part in the Membertou 400 celebration.
- Halifax Rocks 2010 was originally to be a 2 day music festival held on the Common, however due to reasons not released by the concert promoter, the Friday concert, featuring Kid Rock and The Counting Crows had been cancelled. However The Jimmy Swift Band and The Stanfields were added to the Saturday bill.
- "Halifax Commons playground toxic: report" (January 15, 2003)
- "2011 Canada Games Venues"
- "Keep the Common skating oval - Tim Bousquet/The Coast"
- "Commons oval should be a permanent fixture: mayor - News957 January 4, 2011
- "McCartney hires Halifax musicians as opening acts". CTV News, July 9, 2009.
- "City musician to open for icon". Winnipeg Free Press, July 13, 2009.
- "CBC News - Arts - Halifax park fares well after McCartney show". Cbc.ca. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- "Many Black Eyed Peas fans get free show". Cbc.ca. 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- Canadian, The (2009-07-15). "Beatle under her skin | Music | Entertainment". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 2010-05-26.[dead link]
- CA. "It was just a dream come true - Entertainment - Arts - Truro Daily News". Trurodaily.com. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- Grand Chief Membertou 400 Event Website