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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Events Guide: “Culture Not Convention” photo exhibition launch Monday!

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HALIFAX – This Monday will launch an exhibition of black and white photos dubbed “Culture Not Convention” to be featured at The Khyber all week. The work is a collective, community-based response to plans by all three levels of government to spend up to $375 million in tax dollars on a proposed high rise convention centre in the downtown core. It also includes two water colours by Kyle Jackson.

Borrowing its name from a previous fence weave project, the photo initiative started back in December, when an ad-hoc group of artists, environmentalists, activists and community boosters got together at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to discuss their concerns around the huge sums of money slated to be spent on the convention centre. This event generated a photo petition featuring participants’ creative, utopian, and common sense ideas for how those tax dollars could be redirected into projects focused on better development planning and environmental and economic sustainability.

Since then, the photo collection has snowballed, accruing new ideas at the Seaport Farmers’ Market and community events throughout Halifax. Now comprised of almost 60 photos, it is a living, growing archive of Haligonians’ priorities for a revitalized and remarkable city core.

Rumour has it Defence Minister Peter MacKay will be announcing federal support for the convention centre proposal at the Chamber of Commerce at 7:50am Monday morning, giving this exhibit even deeper relevance. Come view fellow Halifax folks’ un-conventional ideas for the city, and show your support for sustainable, community-generated, and dynamic city planning.

WHAT: “Culture Not Convention” photography exhibition
WHERE: The Khyber (third floor), 1588 Barrington Street, Halifax
WHEN: Show runs Aug 15th-19th; launch party on Monday Aug 15th, 7pm-9pm
Free; cash bar.



  1. Pathetic…maybe we should stop funding the Kyber?

  2. You may want to get your facts straight, or are you purposely distorting the facts…  They are not spending 375 million on the public portion of the center they are spending 150 ish million.  You may want to take a look at your own picture above the article, or just do some basic research before you publish blatant misinformation… 

  3. You guys are out to lunch!!! $375 million where the hell did you get that number? I suggest if you can handle progress than please leave the province, because your holding the rest of us back.

  4. People who think $150 ish million tax dollars is not a lot of money need their head examined.

    Viva Culture not Convention!

  5. I agree with Happy Guy’s comment.

    All three levels of government and the developer have clearly stated that they do not know the final cost of this project to the public.

    It seems no one knows exactly the final total cost to Nova Scotians over the life of the project and there is a disincentive for the proponents to let these numbers be known in aggregate.

    Still, we can make a pretty good estimate based on what is known. Here’s mine. I look forward to any discussion of the premises which I will state clearly:

    1/ Federal infrastructure funding redirected from other NS projects to the CC construction

    $51 million

    2/ Estimated construction overage (things always cost a little more) – 15%

    ($159m x 15%) = $24 million

    3/ Yearly payments from PNS and HRM for building

    $14 m x 25 years = $350m (this is likely where the writer gets their estimate…)

    4/ Loss from operation at TCL (assuming they continue to do at least as well as they do now…

    $4 m x 25 years

    5/ General marketing and promotion

    $1 m x 25 years (it ‘s likely higher in the early years and if things don’t go well but this is a low estimate)

    6/ Property Taxes forgone on the space (They’ve exempted the CC from taxes!)

    $480k x 25 years

    7/ Interest on loan from province to finance the “private portion of the convention centre. This is the recent bit of news where the Province says it will borrow the money to build the centre on the developer’s behalf to “save money”

    $390 m x 4% x 25 years

    8/ Payroll rebate to induce companies to locate in new centre

    $2 m per year x 25 years

    9/ Increase in downtown infrastrucutre and services to support centre

    $300k per year x 25 years

    And add it all up, check it over…

    Total cost to the people of Nova Scotia over 25 years NOT including actually buying or owning anything at the end is…

    just a little over $1 Billion DOLLARS !!!

    My view is there are very few things you could do in Nova Scotia that could cost this much over this long and have such little economic benefit or be of such low redeeming quality.

  6. Happy Guy will be happy to know that the $375 million comes from the provincial and municipal governments. Go to page 17 of this document on the Trade Centre web site and you will find some of the numbers:

    Go to page 14 of this report on the HRM web site and you will find more:
    Multiply the provincial and municipal figures by the 25 years they would be on the hook, add in the $51 million the Province asked the feds to commit from the NS infrastructure allocation, and you get a number close to that in the article.

  7. This was a great exhibition and generated lots of interest. Thanks to the photographers, interviewees, and everyone who helped mount and publicize the exhibition.
    I hope those of you who faulted the $375 million price tag have now done the research and gone through the though processes suggested by John Wesley Chisholm and Empty Pockets (whose references let you see the numbers in Trade Centre Limited own words).
    Once again it is sad to have respondents equating progress with high rise development. Think again…I hope you saw the exhibit and now understand that real progress is in investment in our people, our environment, and all aspects of our quality of life. A $375 million (or more) financial black hole, because no one knows how much it will cost, is simply taking money from our collective resources and giving them to a private developer.

  8. I fully agree with Mr. Chisholm, “Empty Pockets” & Ms Miller. That our trusted (up to now) elected representatives would dare to sling this albatross of a P3 and underground convention centre around our necks for the next 25 years is insane and irresponsible of them. It’s been said before, that, from Nanaimo, BC to Dublin, Ireland, convention centres are economic black holes even before they open. They and their suporters are such loosers! More useless than the old horse and buggy. Thanks to the organizers of the “Culture not Convention” exhibit. If the governments REALLY want to do something for the already existing businesses, they could fund a project to put all our electrical services underground – not a convention centre. With even a moderate storm power goes off and businesses have to close in the middle of the day because their lights and cash registers are out of operation! Not fair.