Halifax Convention Centre

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Halifax Convention Centre
Argyle Street and Nova Centre.jpg
Nova Centre under construction in 2016
Location Halifax, Nova Scotia
Operator Trade Centre Limited
Opened 2017
Enclosed space
 • Total space 120,000 sq ft (11,000 m2)
 • Exhibit hall floor 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2)
 • Breakout/meeting 40,000 sq ft (3,700 m2)
 • Ballroom 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2)
Website halifaxconventioncentre.com

The Halifax Convention Centre is a conference centre under construction in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is slated to open in 2017, replacing the nearby World Trade and Convention Centre as the main convention venue in the city.

The Halifax Convention Centre is part of the $500-million Nova Centre project currently under construction in downtown Halifax. With 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of mixed-use space, Nova Centre is the largest integrated development project undertaken in Nova Scotia’s history. The new, larger convention facility will house 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2) flexible event space that will allow Halifax to accommodate conventions and events that the current convention centre cannot handle.

History[edit]

Trade Centre Limited (TCL), the provincial Crown corporation which operates the World Trade and Convention Centre, has stated that the current facility is insufficiently sized to accommodate demand for larger scale conventions, citing the lack of a dedicated exhibition room and the larger size of comparable facilities elsewhere in the country. In 2008, Trade Centre Limited and the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal issued an expression of interest for an expanded facility.[1] This process identified a successful proponent, Rank Inc., a private developer. Rank Inc. will build the overall development, called Nova Centre, of which the convention centre, operated by TCL, will be a constituent enterprise.

In August 2011, the federal government announced it would invest $51 million toward eligible construction costs for the new convention centre. The remaining funding is being shared by the Province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality, with each contributing $56.4 million. With funds in place for the convention centre portion of the project, the developer, Rank Inc., continued to work on preliminary designs and securing tenants for the other aspects of the Nova Centre project.

In July 2012, Rank Inc. CEO Joe Ramia officially announced his intention to proceed with the project, beginning with wide-ranging public consultation to help inform the look and feel, streetscape and public spaces for the Nova Centre. That same month Regional Council gave its final approval to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)[2] with the Province of Nova Scotia that outlines the construction, operational and financial agreements surrounding the new downtown convention centre.

Auditor General Jacques Lapointe, in 2012, criticized the market study used to justify construction of the new convention centre. Without questioning the general merits of a new facility, he stated that "some industry realities were ignored" and provided new calculations which suggested that the economic spinoff could be significantly diminished if the expected utilization rate was lower than calculated. Trade Centre CEO Scott Ferguson responded by stating that he stood by the original projections. The auditor general recommended the Dexter cabinet seek an independent second opinion on the 10-year market projections for facility use, but the government refused, stating that the reports which has been done to date were sufficient.[3][4]

The branding and name of the facility, Halifax Convention Centre, were announced in early 2014 by Ferguson, who praised the "simplicity" and marketing sense of the name and graphic identity.[5] He has also stated that numerous bookings have already been made, and that the centre is "on track" to meet business projections.[5][6]

In November 2014, the developer confirmed a substantial completion date of September 30, 2016, for the Nova Centre, with an official opening for the Halifax Convention Centre planned for January 2017.[7]

In April 2014, the province introduced the Halifax Convention Centre Act, legislation that will see the provincial government and the Halifax Regional Municipality establish the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation to manage and operate the new facility.[8] The legislation requires the two levels of government to jointly appoint a board of directors. Once in place, the board will set and implement the strategic direction for the corporation.

Convention centre under construction in 2015

The developer updated information in its planning application to amend the Downtown Halifax Secondary Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law and its request to close and acquire Grafton Street. This proposal went before the Design Review Committee on March 20 and was subsequently approved and recommended to Regional Council on April 1, 2014.[9]

A public hearing was held April 29, 2014, to discuss the proposed amendments and to consider the closure of Grafton Street to accommodate the new design of the Nova Centre, specifically bringing the ballroom of the Halifax Convention Centre above ground. This new design arises from public feedback gathered during the consultations in 2012. In the end, Council approved the amendments and asked municipal staff to look into options for the closure of Grafton Street.[10]

The developer presented the final design of the building to the Design Review Committee through a substantive site plan approval application.[11] The Committee approved the application, with conditions, at a special meeting on June 12, 2014.[11] On June 10, 2014, Council discussed the sale of Grafton Street and subsequently approved the sale to Argyle Developments at a price of $1.9 million. The sale closed on August 14.

The developer has now confirmed a substantial completion date of September 30, 2016, for the Nova Centre, with an official opening for the Halifax Convention Centre planned for January 2017. The final floor plans for the convention centre have been unveiled and the developer has committed to regular project updates and ongoing collaboration with project partners to ensure that progress continues as scheduled.[12]

Facility[edit]

The new convention centre will comprise over 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2) of meeting space, including a 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) ballroom, 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) of multi-purpose convention space, and 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of meeting space.[13] It is being constructed on a site comprising two city blocks bounded by Prince, Argyle, Sackville, and Market streets, bisected by Grafton Street which has been temporarily closed and destroyed to permit excavation and construction. One of the two blocks was previously the longstanding head office of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, who relocated to Armdale.

The convention centre is part of a larger development called Nova Centre, composed of the convention centre podium with office, residential, and hotel space above. The entire development has been stated to be about 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) in total.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Assessing the Potential for Expanded Convention/Trade Show Facilities in Halifax" (PDF). Trade Centre Limited. HLT Advisory. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Halifax Regional Municipality (2012-07-10). "Regional Council approves agreement with province to move ahead with convention centre". Halifax.ca. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  3. ^ Withers, Paul (21 November 2012). "Auditor general doubts convention centre targets". CBC News. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Halifax convention centre jumps latest hurdle". CBC News. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Davenport, Ruth (23 January 2014). "New convention centre brand unveiled, 16 conferences already booked". Metro Halifax. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "New convention centre already booking conventions". CBC News. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Assouad, Mayya (28 November 2014). "Opening of Nova Centre, new Halifax convention centre delayed by months". Global News. 
  8. ^ "New Corporation to Operate Halifax Convention Centre". Province of Nova Scotia. 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  9. ^ "Case 18708 - Amendments to the Downtown Halifax Secondary MPS and Downtown Halifax LUB and the Closure of Part of Grafton Street for the Nova Centre Redesign" (PDF). Halifax Regional Municipality. 2014-02-28. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  10. ^ "Halifax Regional Council Minutes" (PDF). Halifax Regional Municipality. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  11. ^ a b "Design Review Committee Meeting Minutes" (PDF). Halifax Regional Municipality. 2014-06-12. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  12. ^ "Facility | The New Halifax Convention Centre". Halifaxconventioncentre.com. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  13. ^ "Facility". Halifax Convention Centre official website. Halifax Convention Centre. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Developer of Halifax's new Nova Centre releases final design". CTV News. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 

External links[edit]