Bill Estabrooks said suggestions the province is trying to sabotage the trade centre project for downtown Halifax with an aggressive ask to the municipality are “absurd.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Estabrooks, the minister charged with handling the trade centre file. “I see this project, that I’m finally allowed to talk about publicly, as a great opportunity for Halifax, for Nova Scotia, for Atlantic Canada … there’s no conspiracy theory here, that’s just ridiculous.”
Halifax regional council was told the conditions of the province’s support of the project Tuesday. They include a property tax exemption for the trade centre, which may cost the municipality up to $1.2 million a year, as well as a resolution on the current facility — which the province suggested the municipality should buy.
That had some councillors questioning the sincerity of the province’s support for the project, which Premier Darrell Dexter announced on Oct. 13.
While Estabrooks said he wouldn’t call the bid aggressive, he did admit it represents the current financial status of the province.
“As a government that’s dealing with some of the financial situations that we’ve faced … we’re certainly asserting the fact that we have some clear expectations,” he said.
“I don’t think at this stage we can call them unfair from my perspective. They’re clear, they’re concise and they’re laid out there as we continue negotiations. That’s part of the negotiation process.”