Posted: Aug 11, 2010, 4:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Halifax council approves 3-year plan for Khyber Building
Municipality will try to secure $811,000 from federal, provincial governments for upgrades to downtown arts and cultural centre
By MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE
and PAT LEE
Halifax council Tuesday gave its blessing to a three-year plan covering the municipally owned Khyber Building, a move made to help the heritage structure become an arts and culture anchor for the hurting Barring ton Street district.
Support for the project, which includes upgrading and manag ing the building, was unani mous.
But not all councillors were comfortable with the scheme’s cost implications. The third year of the plan will see more than $811,000 worth of extensive renovations done to the artist run centre, which is across the street from the Discovery Centre in downtown Halifax.
Just where that money will come from remains to be seen, city staff told council. Staff said Halifax Regional Municipality will try to secure funds from the provincial and federal govern ments.
“You’re not approving any capital program right now," Wayne Anstey, the city’s interim chief administrative officer, told the politicians.
City hall and the arts commu nity had been at loggerheads for several years over the future of the historic building, viewed as a valuable part of the proposed rejuvenation of Barrington Street. One councillor said the municipality has mismanaged the building, home to two ten ants including the Khyber Arts Society.
Most recently, the debate focused on the wish of the so ciety, the primary tenant for 15 years, to call the shots and run the programming while the municipality handled upgrades and maintenance.
City staff agrees with a con sultant’s report, which viewed the four-storey building as a viable home for an arts and culture “incubator" for down town.
On Tuesday, a society board member told regional council his non-profit group of volun teers can play a crucial role in the new plan’s success.
“Our vision for a successful Khyber is to work with the city and staff to again make it a beehive of cultural activity," said Anton Christiansen.
The municipality will be responsible for all upgrades, such as an elevator to reach four floors as well as less expensive repairs and finishing improve ments to the walls and wash rooms.
“We’re in line. We like it," Garry Neill Kennedy, board chairman of the arts society, said of the plan before council’s evening debate.
“It was a relief" to see the municipality recognize the sig nificance of the Khyber Building and its potential as an arts hub, Kennedy said. In other business, council endorsed a proposed mixed-use development for Dutch Village Road in Halifax. An 11-storey apartment building and a low rise commercial structure are planned for the old St. Lawrence Church Rectory site.
The project, which includes on-site parking, now goes to Chebucto community council.
If a tie in sports is like kissing your sister, then what is a tie vote akin to when it is put for ward by regional council?
Well, for one thing, it’s a lost opportunity to decide on an issue affecting the future of the municipality.
Mayor Peter Kelly said recent ly perhaps the time has come to seek the legislative authority to abolish tie votes. He made his comment after councillors voted four times during a meeting last week on downsizing the num ber of council members.
A vote for reducing the mem bership to 20, plus the mayor, ended 12-12. The result meant that vote was defeated because it was a tie.
So the motion to cut council’s size was lost, and the politicians stuck with the status quo on vote No. 4.
‘Our vision for a successful Khyber is to work with the city and staff to again make it a beehive of cultural activity.’
Khyber Arts Society