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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Monday Musing

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co-hosted by Veronica Simmonds
If coffee doesn’t quite spark your brain on Monday mornings, get your jump start with Spacing Atlantic’s musing of the week. We pose a question – you think, write, comment, share philosophies, facts, ideas or opinions. By Friday we will summarize the discussion and provide musings of our own. Don’t be shy! Comment away ..

A Convention Centre is proposed to fill a void in the vibrant heart of downtown Halifax. What do you think is the best use of this land?

photo by John McCarthy



  1. I’m not opposed to a convention – but the shape and form is integral. The proposed renderings are awful. Perhaps they need to follow the public library’s footsteps, and have community consultation guide the design.

  2. VIA “Hawthorn Q S” on facebook:

    mixed use office/small business/nice galleries and cafes. Actual housing downtown would be cool too. The smaller and more diverser the better (to a point, of course)

  3. I think this is the wrong question.

    A lot of people might answer “Cafes!” “Galleries!” “Houses for Artists!” “Lollipops!”. Lets get real. Sound planning and architecture looses to economics every single time. Why is downtown “vibrant”? I think it’s full of drunk students, tired tourists and mediocre food. There are a handful of wonderful small shops downtown, but the economy is small, composed largely of tourism, students and some locals. So this is vibrant. Wouldn’t a convention center just add more tourists? More people to eat and drink, therefore more vibrancy? How do you encourage mixed use and satisfy the needs of whoever is paying the mortgage and taxes on the land? How could we use our convictions to make the owner some money and make a thoughtful contribution to the city? If there is no money to be made there will be no money to consider vague ideas like shape and form. How would I fill a void in vibrancy? I would probably hire a circus. How will the owner fill the lot? Probably with something that will pay the rent. 

  4. I have many concerns with the proposal, but the main one being what it’ll do at street-level. The proposal seems to involve a stark wall that butts up against the sidewalk for a block-long stretch along Sackville St. If there aren’t dynamic human-scale, street-level facets to the design, it doesn’t belong downtown.

  5. @ J Pooley:
    interesting to hear your interpretation of the question! i was thinking it is a space void right now, since it is fenced off and not used. but a “void in vibrancy” as you put it – i think that exists as well. actually, i think the voids in space downtown are voids in vibrancy.

    each empty space is a lost opportunity for “social innovation squats” or artists spaces, or education/workshop venues or other temporary uses that would add excitement and value to the city, even for a few days/weeks/months.

    great points on the need to generate economic activity in the downtown. that need is glaring! money can’t be our sole driver in development though, that has been done and hasn’t seen great results. we need to develop for profit & benefit to the community.

    whatever the site becomes, i want to see more opportunities for people / organizations with ideas they want to launch, but need a space to do so. incubation, innovation spaces…

    i think HRM needs to tax higher on vacancy.

  6. All economic and sustainable evidence suggests that this is a bad idea: a bad idea for business, for Council, for view planes, for citizens. In the past few months, the open space between Argyle and Market has been lovely to enjoy. It would be a nice park, and while there are no financial benefits for the city in developing a park in that space, I would go downtown just to chill there, and then maybe get a beer or a coffee and do some shopping while I was at it. This kind of development would encourage people to visit downtown. A business-oriented mostly-private aesthetically-void space will not. Cities like Toronto and Boston have found park development to be beneficial to the economic and social well-being of the community.

    Plus, people in nearby condos could walk their dogs there.

    Pipe dreams, I know.