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Value only one hurdle in possible sale of Spring Garden library site

A new staff report recommends Halifax regional council authorize anestimated $100,000 contract to put a price tag on the Spring GardenRoad Memorial Library site.

A new staff report recommends Halifax regional council authorize an estimated $100,000 contract to put a price tag on the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library site.

The report, which will be debated by council today, asks councillors to approve the contract to “engage external expertise” to “value potential revenue opportunities through the sale of existing library site and nearby municipal parking lot sites.”

According to the report, staff was directed by council in November 2008 to explore the sale of the current library site as a potential funding option for HRM’s new Central Library, which will be located at Spring Garden Road and Queen Street.

But there is a significant hurdle to selling the site — current provincial legislation states the land can only be used for a public library and park. Under those terms, the land would be returned to the province if the site was used for any other purpose.

The current library site was the location of the former Halifax Poor House, owned by the province. The site was deeded over to the former City of Halifax when the Poor House closed in 1882, under the stipulation it may only be used as a public park. That changed in 1949, when the terms of the deed were amended to its current manifestation to allow the construction of the Memorial Library.

Due to this complication, the report recommends removing the sale of the site from the Central Library funding strategy. The report notes, however, that the “future of the lands and building will be dealt with in a future report” and that “any revenue realized from this site could be earmarked for the new Central Library.”

But Downtown Coun. Dawn Sloane said it would not be beneficial to HRM to get rid of the Memorial Library. “If anything it should be refurbished and used for a common use,” she said. “If we find a use within the municipality to use (the building), we keep it ... It would be to our least benefit to get rid of it.”