The Halifax Commons

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Bum Sleeping at The Halifax Commons_5698

Solidarity Halifax is a membership-based, pluralist, non-sectarian, democratic, anti-capitalist organization in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Commons Fountain_5793Halifax Commons Oval (winter)_1590Halifax Commons Streaker_5454AChalk Art at The Halifax Commons

Halifax Commons_4151AAFrisbee Soccer at the Halifax Commons

Skateboading Aug 13 2014_6659A

Life Flight Helicopter Flying Over The Halifax Commons

Chalk Art Halifax Commons_7678Halifax Is a MESS – Halifax Commons New Sidewalk Damaged by Snow Removal

Published on May 8, 2015

Life Flight Helicopter Landing and Take Off From Hospital Rooftop in Halifax

PaulMcCartney3958Tea Time (comedy) at The Halifax Commons

TeaTime at Halifax Commons_9131

PowWow_2790Sick trees at Halifax Commons by Robie St


Skate Laces Structure_3499Gymnist Halifax Commons Fountain_5952A

Tight Rope Walk at The Halifax Commons



QE2 Life Flight Helicopter Takes Off Over The Halifax Commons


Sick Dying Trees and Chemtrails at The Halifax Commons

See much more at

Chalk Art Halifax Commons_7694

Disrespectful Halifax Worker Parks Truck blocking sidewalk Wheelchair Cam

Published on Sep 4, 2014

Out of Control Alcohol Consumption In Halifax Commons At Charity Baseball

Wheelchair Rights Video Reports Now posted at

Please see the full report here with photos, videos, witness comments, documents and more..
with much evidence of this baseball event that uses the charity thing to have permission to get drunk in a public park right beside the childrens swimming pool, play grounds and skate park. Then also these people who were drinking getting into their cars and driving down the the pedestrian trail endangering everyone. No proper security to control access to this event, letting underage people come in. permitting people to bring coolers full of their own alcohol.

Hanging at The Halifax Commons_1736

Old Commons Pond__6963A

Media Release – Cost of Oval

HRM City Staff Not Calculating Real Cost of Oval


(Halifax) In its rush to Save the Oval, the HRM staff report on the Canada Games Oval, recommending a single centralized skating facility on the North Halifax Common, has miscalculated the price tag and budget implications.

“One cost missing is NSPI’s forecasted 20% electricity rate increase by 2015, on top of the 43% since 2002″ says Alan Ruffman, Executive member of Friends of Halifax Common.

“Another is the increased cost of energy consumption and maintenance of such a large outdoor ice surface when Environment Canada is telling us that, thanks to climate change, we’ve just come through the warmest winter on record- the 14th in a row, and one with many extreme weather events that bring high winds, high rain and snowfalls and lots of power outages,” concludes Ruffman.

Derek Hawes, project manager for the Ice Rink Energy Programme that is operated through the Recreation Facility Association of Nova Scotia, raised several concerns with HRM about the oval.

“This one facility has a similar refrigeration capacity as eight indoor community arenas, and in another location such as the Central Common or Beasley Field, the waste heat could be used to heat approximately 140 homes or the equivalent number of public buildings such as hospitals or a school,” said Mr Hawes.

“I suggested a number of other skating options, including skating paths in Victoria Park, on the Grand Parade or other community destinations where the waste heat could be used, but for the staff, the oval on the Common was a done deal,” Mr. Hawes continued.

Hawes is also concerned about the quality of the refrigeration units the city purchased: “I have reason to believe the long-term operating and maintenance costs will be significantly higher than staff projected.”

“Unfortunately, Council was misled and based their decision on misinformation provided in the staff report- If the oval goes ahead, it would be the most expensive and environmentally unfriendly rink ever built in the province.” concluded Mr. Hawes.

Friends of Halifax Common presented at several HRM Community Council meetings to urge more time be taken so the best decision is made. Members suggest that the oval could be a focus for the redesign of the Central Common or, as proposed in the original plan for the Canada Winter Games Skating oval, to have a network of community neighbourhood skating venues throughout HRM instead of forcing everyone to drive to one destination.

The North Common is less than one-third of the original public open space on the Halifax Common.

“The skating oval is another example of where the HRM staff are rushing into a poor planning decision for the Halifax Common instead of respecting a long-term master-plan,” said Beverly Miller, FHC Co-chair. “Public open space on the Halifax Common will be lost, or continue to be covered with concrete or remain under threat of commercialization as long as there is no proper public process,” concluded Miller.

The estimate for making the oval permanent is approximately $6 million dollars. Although sponsors have come forward, all HRM taxpayers will be contributing $8 per $100,000 property value. No estimates have been provided for multiple outdoor skating rinks throughout HRM.


Media Contact: Peggy Cameron-902-258-3354 / Derek Hawes-902-403-6511 (c)
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This entry was posted in Releases on 04/29/2011 by pcameron.
FloodLights at Oval_5978

Click on image in gallery below for more options. Then press F11 for full screen. (Please scroll down below gallery for more articles and documents.)

Media Release – Common for Sale?

Is the Halifax Common for Sale?

HRM Council is going to sell the Queen Elizabeth High School site, Halifax Common land. This is to facilitate Flagship Developments on Spring Garden Road & Queen (the new public library) and the Grand Parade & Province House.

The Halifax Common Plan is very specific about the amount of city-owned land in the Halifax Common not being decreased (3.1). The Plan recommends preserving public open space for a variety of outdoor recreation and leisure activities or other suitable public uses.

It specifically mentions the Queen Elizabeth High School as being an example of a property to be returned to the city when it is declared surplus by the School Board. At 5.5 acres it is the largest parcel of land that could revert to public open green space.

Friends of the Halifax Common believes the newly constructed Halifax Infirmary Emergency site (which happened without due process) could be leased to the province BUT the balance of the Queen Elizabeth High School lands should become public open green space.

Details on what the city is proposing can be found at:

What’s wrong with the HRM staff report:

HRM Council has “flagship development” projects slated for Spring Garden Road /Queen Street and Grand Parade / Province House.
These projects “balance future land use objectives with the goal of creating a liveable, prosperous, vibrant, attractive urban and legislative precinct respectively”. This will be facilitated through a land sale, including Halifax Common land- the 5.5 acres from the former Queen Elizabeth High School.
FHC SAYS: Why can’t the Halifax Common be HRM’s flagship undevelopment?
The Halifax Common creates a “liveable, prosperous, vibrant, attractive urban precinct” – why wreck it?
There will always be a reason to give away the Common. Imagine New York allowing 5.5 acres of Central Park to be sold for a building.
The Real Cost?

HRM is trading 269,994 ft2 for the province’s 131,330 ft2
It’s getting half as much land (137, 664 ft2 difference) but its still paying the province $1.9 million.

FHC SAYS: Is this good dollar value?
Would a farmer make this decision about a piece of land?

From the HRM Staff report:

Amount of land being transferred to the Province in ft2
255,742 + 13252 = 268,994
Amount of land being transferred to HRM:
47,040 + 84290 = 131,330
Public Green Space:

All of the lands traded will be used for buildings. There is no net gain in public open green space.

FHC SAYS: It is projected that the peninsula population will be increased by 15,000 to 20,000 by 2020. Build a building on Common land and we lose that land for another 100 years.

A lot of details on what HRM is proposing for land use are about traffic:
widening Bell Road 38 feet to four lanes- to ease the flow of cars, buses, emergency vehicles and no kidding cyclists!;
new building design by the captial district health has to leave space to accommodate future traffic and intersection improvements at Robie and Bell Road and Bell Road at Trollope (a rotary anyone?)
FHC SAYS: Widening roads doesn’t work & is not sustainable.
It’s like going on a diet by loosening your belt – that’s not sustainable prosperity!
Health Care:

HRM staff cite CBC radio interviews as their source for evidence that the VG site is in bad conditions. They don’t cite the Dal Surgery 2007 report which gives many examples of how efficiencies could be improved within the existing infrastructure:
– completing the 6th floor of the Dartmouth General;
– increasing long-term care bed numbers,
– using efficiencies within the region etc.

The report mentions… ” with changing demographics, additional hospital capacity/beds is expected”
…”health care is a major economic contributor to HRM, the province and to peninsula Halifax and expansion at the QEII complex would add 2000-3000 staff”

FHC SAYS: Why would the city (and province) supporting a model that promotes illness as an economic driver rather than wellness?
Why isn’t Capital Health building up- increasing density, instead of out?
Are all Nova Scotians going to receive health care in Halifax?
Health Benefits from Public Green Space:
There is lots of evidence that even small parks in the heart of our cities can protect us from strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stress and perhaps even promote faster healing after surgery.

These benefits are also linked to reducing the “health gap” between rich and poor. A recent report in the British medical journal The Lancet (there are many others!) determined Green Space reduces the “health gap” between rich and poor.

FHC SAYS: Not everyone has a cottage or an out of town vacation. Public open space is free!
Many of Halifax residents live in apartments and don’t own cars, are seniors or students and live on fixed incomes.
Bill 204

In order to be able to SELL the Common, HRM requires an Act of the Legislature, Bill 204.
An Act to Enable the Transfer of Lands Necessary for the Expansion of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre

At Law Amendments FHC stated:
The Act to enable the selling of part of the Halifax Common does not respect the 1763 vision of King George III nor the 1994 vision of citizens and Halifax city staff who developed the Halifax Common Plan.

FHC requested: …that the Act be reworded to allow the new Halifax Infirmary site to be leased to the province but keep the balance of the Queen Elizabeth High School land as public open green space.

Friends of Halifax Common Challenge Sale of Common Land – Media Release

Friends of Halifax Common (FHC) are calling on the provincial government to stop the sale of 5.5 acres of Halifax Common land at the former Queen Elizabeth High School (QEHS). The QEHS land is included in a land swap between HRM and the province. FHC says this a bad deal. HRM will lose public open green space, pay $1.9 million for the land swap but will acquire half as much as land as the province.

All the traded land will be for two “Flagship Developments” purportedly to create a livable, prosperous, vibrant, attractive urban and legislative precinct.”

“What’s wrong with the Halifax Common being the Flagship Un-development?” asks FHC co-chair Peggy Cameron. “Isn’t supporting public parks and open green space, places to walk a dog, throw a Frisbee, go for a run, or plant a garden just as important for creating a healthy, vibrant, livable city as building more buildings?”

“What’s at stake is the park used by many Halifax residents who live in apartments and are students, young families or seniors with low incomes,” said Cameron, noting that the skate park and only children’s play ground on the North Common are directly opposite the ambulance driveway to the new hospital emergency entrance.

By ignoring the 1994 Halifax Common Plan’s instruction to retain all land in the Halifax Common including the QEHS, Council continues to whittle away at the public area bounded by Cunard, South, Robie and North and South Park streets. Less than one-third of the original 235 acres of the Halifax Common remain.

“Where is the overall vision for how the city could be look? That scale of landmark is like New York’s Central Park,” FHC co-chair Beverly Miller explains. “Imagine the uproar in Manhattan if the City gave away 5.5 acres for a building.”

HRM’s staff report promises lots of green setbacks and walkways, but based on similar pledges when part of Tower Road was given to the VG hospital, the city’s track record on such promises is poor.

“It’s incredible that after Chebucto Road, that HRM is ‘easing traffic circulation’ by widening Bell Road 38 feet,” said Laena Garrison, Ecology Action Centre’s transportation expert. “The proposed bike lane’s location, on an ambulance route along a busy thoroughfare through a large intersection, is questionable in terms of safety” stated Garrison.

HRM needs the provincial government to pass Bill 204 to sell the Common. Presenters before Law Amendment’s Committee suggested the government help protect the Common by leasing the new emergency site to Capital Health but keeping the rest of the QEHS lot as green, open, and Common.

The British medical journal The Lancet recently reported that green space reduces the “health gap” between rich and poor The Regional Plan wants 15,000 – 20,000 more residents on the peninsula by 2025 without any plan for additional open space.

– 30 –

For more information contact:
Peggy Cameron, FHC co-chair and Executive: 902-492-4372
Beverly Miller, FHC co-chair and Executive: 902-429-9540

The Halifax Commons Timeline.

  • 1700s
  • 1760-1762
    The Halifax Common was laid out under the authority of Lieutenant Governor John Belcher.
  • 1762, June 8
    Charles Morris registers the plan outlining the Halifax Common on land described as “rocky, swampy and unsuitable for cultivation.”
  • 1763, July 30
    King George III grants the 235 acres of common land “for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax forever.”
  • 1800s
  • Unnamed roads are built to delineate the western and northern boundaries of the Halifax Common.
  • 1800
    Mrs. Andrew Paul, (age 84 in 1915) of Tufts Cove, Dartmouth recounts how her grandfather Toney trapped beaver with wooden dead-falls at Black-Duck Pond (Egg Pond). Her father Joe Toney (died at 102), was the last man to kill a Moose near the Pond.
  • 1818
    Spring Garden Road is extended to meet the western boundary of the Halifax Common. Lots are leased to private citizens and the loss of Common lands begins.
  • 1830
    Officials grant the12 acre Garrison Grounds, on the western side of the Citadel to the military for slope protection.
  • 1830
    The city gives Camp Hill Hospital property to the military in exchange for Fort Massey Cemetery lands.
  • 1837
    The city grants 5.5 acres, rent-free to the Royal Horticultural Society. These lands form the south half of today’s Public Gardens.
  • 1843
    The City deeds Fort Massey land to the Roman Catholic Church (Queen & Church Streets). Holy Cross Cemetery is established.
  • 1844
    Camp Hill Cemetery is established (Summer, Jubilee, Robie & a line one block north of Spring Garden Road) to replace the Old Burying Ground (1749).
  • 1859
    A General Hospital is built on the South Common, the beginning of the habit of institutional land grants.
  • 1860
    City of Halifax and the War Department make an agreement to fence off the North Common for military purposes including mounted and marching drills.
  • 1866
    The Poor Asylum is built.
  • Wanderer’s Amateur Athletic Club (W.A.A.C.) leases what becomes the Wanderer’s Grounds.
  • 1870
    The School for the Blind is Built (South Park at South Streets).
  • 1871
    Halifax City Council authorizes the selling of lots on Spring Garden Road to encourage suitable private development without public cost.
  • 1875
    The Public Gardens is established by the city and includes the lands granted previously to the Royal Horticultural Society (1837).
  • 1878
    Freshwater Brook piped and covered for sewage.
  • 1879
  • An Exhibition Building is built (Tower Road).
  • 1886
    Dalhousie College (Forrest Hall) is built (University Avenue at Robie Street).
  • 1890
    (map detail)
  • 1898
    Hart House is built (Summer St)
  • 1900s
  • 1907
    All Saints Cathedral is built on the Exhibition Building site (Tower Road at College Street)-under time and under budget creating a legacy of maintenance problems.
  • 1908
    A fire station is built on University Avenue at Robie Street.
  • 1917
    Camp Hill hospital is built (Robie & Jubilee)
  • 1922
    The Grace Maternity Hospital is built (Summer Street & University Avenue).
  • 1942
    Queen Elizabeth High School is built.
  • 1946-66
    The North Common is used by the Halifax Harness horse Racing Club.
  • 1948
    The Vocational School is built on the east side of Bell Road.
  • 1948
    The Victoria General hospital is built (South and South Park Streets).
  • 1954
    The city sells land to CBC (TV) on Bell Road despite public opposition.
  • 1964-1966
    The Centennial Project (proposed by the Recreation & Playgrounds Commission) removed the horse race track, constructed ball diamonds, landscaping, paths and Centennial Fountain.
  • 1967
    Sir Charles Tupper medical building is built on Dalhousie’s Forrest Campus (University Ave.)
  • 1966-69
    The Central Common is developed for the Canada Games with lighted softball diamond, tennis courts and the Pavilion.
  • 1970
    The Nova Scotia Museum is built (Summer & Bell)
  • 1971
    The Abby Lane Hospital is built (Jubilee).
  • 1984
    Halifax School for the Blind (South and South Park) is demolished. A public hearing proposes a “Park within a Park” design by Peter Kynstra Landscape Architects Ltd as part of the VG Hospital main entrance redevelopment. In exchange for a landscaped park with 200 trees and 200 parking places, walking paths and lawns the VG receives permission to close Tower Road between South and University.
  • 1985
    Dalhousie sells the Hart House to United Equities. Over 18,000 citizens sign a petition but fail to stop United Equities from demolishing the building and a row of Victorian houses on Summer Street to build the Summer Garden highrise apartment.
  • 1991
    The Halifax City Charter is changed to permit Grand Prix auto racing on the perimeter of the North and Central Common (included a paving a strip on the Common between Cogswell Street and Bell Road) and charging of admission despite public opposition.
  • 1992
    The New Grace Maternity Hospital is built (University to South). The old site is loaned to Dalhousie for 5 years for use as a parking lot in exchange for demolishing the hospital. It is expected to be returned to the Halifax Common.
  • 1994
    Halifax City adopts Halifax Common Plan, developed after extensive public consultation. Basic tenets are to retain public open land, recapture public land and not lose public land. It is ignored.
  • 1998
    The new Halifax Infirmary opens (Robie/Bell) ignoring research indicating if there is need for hospital capacity it is outside of the peninsula.
  • 1999
    VG Hospital bulldozes the scented garden that commemorated the School for the Blind and gains 12 new parking places.
  • 2000s
  • 2006
  • Friends of Halifax Common founded by Peggy Cameron and Beverly Miller.
  • A September Rolling Stones concert held on the North Common – poor attendance records are kept and the published figure of 50,000 is now acknowledged to be inflated. The concert begins a trend spurred by a competition with Moncton, NB, of hosting concerts that significantly damage the North Common and interfere with free and unfettered access preceding, during and post concerts for months. Real costs to municipality for Rolling Stone concert (police, fire, street inspection, street closures) of up to $150,000 are not revealed.
  • 2007
  • HRM signs MOU with Events Halifax (Eh!): concerts of +40,000 may be held on the North Common; < 10,000 in the Metro Centre; and 10,000-30,000 on the Garrison Ground.
  • HRM trades 2 parcels of land including Queen Elizabeth High site for 30% less land from the province, and owes the province $1.9 million. The swap includes: plans to widen the south side of Bell Road adjacent to QEHS by 38 feet; and, HRM receives promise of 3m green space along the South Park St. side of the former School for the Blind site (now the VG parking lot) a substantially smaller commitment than made at the public meeting in 1984 (see 1984 entry)
  • 2008
  • Capital Health’s Keith Richie and FHC facilitate development of the Urban Garden (5-year commitment.)
  • HRM advances Power Promotional Events $950,000 through Metro Centre account for Keith Urban Country Rockfest. 11,853 In attendance (30,000 reported)- loan re-paid.
  • 2009
  • NS government guarantees $3.5 million artist fee for Paul McCartney concert. ~26,500 attend (50,000 reported)-loan repaid through ticket sales.
  • NS Department of Tourism grants $300,000 and loans $300,000 to Power Promotional Events (PPE) through Trade Centre Ltd. Loan is not repaid. HRM contributes $150,000 in municipal services. (Total cost $750,000)
  • PPE receives $2.4 million for KISS concert through Metro Centre account. Loan is repaid.
  • Newly elected Dexter government stops all offers of provincial assistance for concerts.
  • July
    Paul McCartney concert has a paid attendance of 26,500 (reported attendance-50,000). The KISS concert has a paid attendanc of 21,420 (reported attendance 40,000). HRM and TCL being questionable accounting practices to cover concert costs.
  • October
    FHC organizes Chalk Around the Common (4km) as activity to raise attention to global climate change with the Common as a metaphor
  • 2010
  • HRM advances PPE $1.8 million through Metro Centre for Halifax Rocks and Country Rockfest concerts. Loan is repaid.
  • July
    ”Halifax Rocks” Black Eyed Peas concert: 8,362 tickets sold; (Kidd Rock Cancels). “Country Rocks” Alan Jackson concert: ~10,000 tickets sold. Total loss to HRM: ~$360,000.
  • Dalhousie announces new Brain Repair Centre on the site of the former Grace Maternity Hospital.
  • HRM holds public meeting to present plan for temporary Oval at the Willow Tree corner of the North Common and commit $1.3 million in improvements to the North Common.
  • 2011
  • Halifax hosts Canada Winter Games. The temporary skating Oval is located on the southeast quadrant of the North Common.
  • HRM announces plans for a permanent Oval – “improvement” money is spent on the Oval. FHC presents information that a permanent Oval on the Central Common which produces enough waste heat for 750 homes could heat several public buildings (Citadel High, Capital Health, Nova Scotia Museum, CBC).
  • The temporary Oval is removed and replaced with the permanent Oval. Emera has 10-year naming rights for the Emera Oval for $500,000.00.
  • 2012
  • FHC asks the provincial government for legislative protection for the Halifax Common. The province says HRM knows best. (The province had recently legislated protection of the Dartmouth Common.)
  • HRM offers tender for Molson Canadian Plaza . to support the Emera Oval.
  • HRM obtains a legal opinion that buildings on the Common are illegal and it must have an amendment to the charter. It asks the provincial government for permission to build the support building for the Emera Oval.
  • 2013
  • Solidarity Halifax holds re-naming contest for Emera Oval
  • FHC plans Halifax Common Festival-250 to mark the 250th anniversary (1763-2013)
  • * Sources:
    Bousquet, T. (2012, 2013): The CoastCity of Halifax, (1992). Halifax Common Background Report;City of Halifax (1994) Halifax Common Plan;Markham, S.E. (1980): An Investigation of the Development of the Common of Halifax, NS 1749-1979;Noselski, K. (2012): Exploring the Potential for Sustainable Development in the Halifax Common, Dalhousie University;Van Horne, R. (Jan-Feb 2013, p 41): “On Thin Ice”, Halifax Magazine;Whitehead, R. (1991, Nimbus-p.184) The Old Man Told Us, Excerpts from Mi’kmaw History 1500-1950 (Mrs. Andrew Paul reference) .

Check this out. “Capture the Common” Photo Submissions

UPDATE..This event never happened…

Capture the Common 250


“Capture the Common” is a part of “Celebrate the Common 250,” The event, organized and hosted by the Friends of Halifax Common, runs October 3rd – 6th, 2013. The four-day event will commemorate the gift of the Halifax Common given by King George III in 1763, “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax as Commons forever.” Did you know that only 1/3rd of the original Halifax Common remains? And more is in danger of being lost!

“Capture The Common” is a collective photography project. During the next few weeks, we are asking you to send us your photos! Send us pictures of the Halifax you see (the beautiful and the not so beautiful). What parts of the remaining Halifax Common do you love? In which areas of Halifax do you mourn the loss of common space? Photos can be taken with anything from a smartphone to a professional camera.

From October 3rd – 6th the photos will be installed in the QEII parkade on Robie St. The photo exhibition is not only a recapturing of a space that was once a part of the Halifax Common, but also serves a documentation of Halifax as we see it now!

There are 2 ways to submit your photo(s)!
1. Email your photo(s) to

2. Tweet your photos to @capture250

The deadline for photo submissions is Oct. 1st




Susan E. Markham   Alberta Recreation and Parks.

An investigation of the development of the Common of Halifax, Nova Scotia; 1749-1979. That study investigated the development

CCLR1981.pdf RIGHT CLICK TO DOWNLOAD REPORT of the Halifax Common through three main questions.

1. Why was it created?

2. Why were encroachments permitted and in fact, promoted?

3. Why were recreation uses of the Common initiated and developed?

Here is another report of the history of the Halifax Commons.


Dec 4 2011 FrIEnds of The Halifax Commons report to the Provincial legislature of their disappointment the the Oval land is being privatized. ORIGINAL LINK

20121204-157-04.pdf RIGHT CLICK TO DOWNLOAD.

Name Our Oval

Political Organization

Solidarity Halifax is a membership-based, pluralist, non-sectarian, democratic, anti-capitalist organization in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Our city belongs to the people who live here – not to corporations and developers. Naming the Oval is an opportunity that could reflect and celebrate local history and the people who actually live here. If city council won’t do this, we’ll have to do it ourselves.

Winner Announced: The Halifax Common Oval

The Halifax Common Oval

More than just the name of the grassy land where the Oval sits, the notion of the common is increasingly important in a world where almost everything is seen as a commodity to be bought and sold. The Oval is accessible to everyone because it is publicly funded and operated – a common good we see fit to invest in. It shouldn’t be a zone for almost-free corporate advertising.

Mayor and HRM Council: Time to Rename Our Oval

Solidarity Halifax is pleased to announce the results of our Name Our Oval contest. The winning name, with 31.4% of the vote, is Halifax Common Oval.

“Solidarity Halifax wants to thank the hundreds of people who voted in the Name Our Oval contest,” says Brian Crouse, a member of Solidarity Halifax. “We will be writing to the Mayor and HRM Council with the results of the contest and to urge them to rename our oval after something that reflects the residents of this city and not a for-profit corporation.”

“Solidarity Halifax ran this contest to oppose corporate sponsorship of public facilities and call for the return of Nova Scotia Power to democratic, public ownership,” says Crouse.  “We will continue to highlight the unjust actions and PR gimmicks of this corporate bully, Emera/Nova Scotia Power.  Electricity should be run on a non-profit basis.”


Nomination Totals Percentage
K’jipuktuk Oval



Raymond Taavel Oval



Muriel Duckworth Oval



People’s Oval



Halifax Common



Viola Desmond Oval







In December 2011, without any public debate or discussion, Halifax Regional Council voted to let Emera, owners of Nova Scotia Power and one of the biggest corporate bullies in the province, name the Oval. True to form, Emera named the Oval after themselves.

The skating oval was built with millions of public dollars, but for a measly $50,000 a year, Emera gets to name the Oval for a decade.

Our city belongs to the people who live here – not to corporations and developers. Naming the Oval is an opportunity that could reflect and celebrate local history and the people who actually live here. If city council won’t do this, we’ll have to do it ourselves.

Finalist Names

K’jipuktuk Oval

Pronounced “ge-jee-book-took”. Meaning “the great harbour.” The original name given by the Mi’kmaq to the common land where now resides the settlement of Halifax and on which rests the oval. While some locations in the city hold the English mutation of the name (Chebucto), reaffirming the original name in its Mi’kmaq spelling on public common land would be a positive acknowledgement of the original inhabitants and stewards of the land, and an important step toward a process of unlearning Euro-centric narratives about the history of this territory.

The Muriel Duckworth Oval

Muriel Duckworth (1908-2009), Halifax’s most prominent peace activist, called this city home for more than 60 years. She was a founder of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women and national president of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace; during her tenure the organization protested heavily against Canada’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Duckworth was the first woman in Halifax to run for the provincial legislature in 1974 and a founding member of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. She was the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s Award, the Pearson Medal for Peace, and 10 honorary university degrees.

In 2011, shortly after her death, her name was floated as a possible replacement for that of Cornwallis Jr. High School, when that school’s name was deemed unsuitable due to Cornwallis’s involvement in the attempted genocide of the Mi’kmaq. (The Halifax Regional School Board instead decided on the much blander “Halifax Central Junior High.)

The People’s Oval

Short and to the point. Whose Oval is it anyway? On average, HRM residents have paid and continue to pay more than 10 times as much as Emera to build and operate the Oval. More importantly, this name emphasizes how the facility belongs to all. (Note: name not intended to discriminate against any non-humans who may also enjoy skating.)

The Raymond Taavel Oval

Raymond Taavel (1963-2012). A queer leader and activist, his life was tragically cut short in a violent incident that had impacts felt across the province. Raymond’s dedication to the communities he was a part of was apparent from the remarkable commitments he made; he was the former Editor of and a frequent contributor to Wayves, past chair of Halifax Pride and was involved with Fair Vote Canada and the Shamballah Sun magazine.

Writing in Wayves after a previous attack outside of a gay bar, Raymond said “It’s tempting in this day and age of legislated liberties to think that a personal or collective vigilance is no longer required. It’s easy to lull ourselves into complacency, thinking there’s nothing more left to fight for, or nothing more to achieve. Fighting back comes in many forms: reaching out, building bridges, educating and, if need be, defending ourselves from physical harm”

Raymond’s death meant not only the loss of a community leader but spoke to the fear of violence many in the queer and trans community live with. His loss is still mourned in Halifax, just as his legacy of compassion and belief that a better world is possible is celebrated.

The Viola Desmond Oval

Viola Desmond (1914-1965). A committed family member and proprietor of a beauty parlour and college that served black communities across Nova Scotia, Viola Desmond’s act of defiance against racism should be an inspiration to us all.

In 1946, on a business trip to Cape Breton, she decided to stop in New Glasgow. After buying a ticket at the Roseland Theatre, she took a seat on the ground floor. The theatre had a racist segregation policy that required African Nova Scotians to sit in the balcony area. When asked to move, she refused. She was arrested, tried without counsel and convicted of tax evasion (there was a 1 cent difference in tax for tickets on the main floor versus the balcony). No mention of her race or the racist practices of the theatre was made in the trial.

She chose to fight the charge. While she lost her court case, she did highlight pervasive racism in Nova Scotia that our communities must still challenge today.

Name Our Oval

7 Responses to “Name Our Oval”

  1. […] Halifax, NS – Halifax Regional Council should never have allowed the Oval to be named for Emera/Nova Scotia Power, one of the biggest corporate bullies in the province, says Solidarity Halifax, an anti-capitalist organization in the city. To challenge Council’s decision, Solidarity Halifax will be holding a contest to rename the Oval. Full contest details available at: […]

  2. […] The other is Solidarity Halifax‘s campaign to re-name the Halifax’s Oval. […]

  3. […] in Solidarity Halifax’s Name Our Oval Contest has also spurred some to question: why bother? Here’s […]

  4. […] >>And don’t forget to vote on a new name! […]

  5. […] View details and results here. […]


    Hosted by The Radical Imagination.

    On October 6th, Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis spoke at an event titled “The Politics and Possibilities for the Commons: Radical Horizons in the Age of Austerity” in celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the Halifax Common. It was one of many events organized by Friends of Halifax Common to commemorate the gift of the Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax as Commons forever,” by King George III in 1763.

    Recording published by the Halifax Media Coop:


    The event was co-sponsored by Solidarity Halifax as an evening event following its A People’s History of Nova Scotia Conference.

    On October 6th, Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis spoke at an event titled “The Politics and Possibilities for the Commons: Radical Horizons in the Age of Austerity” in celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the Halifax Common. It was one of many events organized by Friends of Halifax Common to commemorate the gift of the Halifax Common “to and for the use of the inhabitants of the Town of Halifax as Commons forever,” by King George III in 1763.

    Silvia Federici is a world-renowned feminist scholar, writer and activist. A veteran of the international Wages For Housework campaign and anti-nuclear struggles, she is author ofCaliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, and Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle.

    George Caffentzis is a scholar and activist based in New York City. A member of the influential Midnight Notes collective he has written on capitalism, technology, education and the nature of money. He is the author, most recently, of In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism and he is an organizer with the New York-based Strike Debt movement.

    The discussion was led by questions from Max Haiven. This is an abridged version of the event.


7 thoughts on “The Halifax Commons”

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