Common corrections

letter from the premier

I write in regards to Tim Bousquet’s articles of June 28 (“Darrell Dexter approved moving Bridge Terminal onto Dartmouth Common land in 1995,” Reality Bites blog) and July 30 (“Province, city come to agreement on Bridge Terminal,” Reality Bites blog) on the Dartmouth Common. I believe these articles commit the twin sins of being both factually incorrect and misrepresentative of my position.

The Dartmouth Common was a royal grant of common land by King George III. Originally, it was some 150 acres of land set aside for common use. Over time, by various governmental bodies, the Common’s use eroded, often in the name of public purpose, each with their own identifiable and justifiable set of benefits. This left a portion of the Common set out for protection in legislation in 1986, introduced by Roland J. Thornhill, the MLA for Dartmouth South. It was subsequently rolled into the Halifax Regional Municipality Act.

In his column of June 28, indeed it is the headline of his story---Mr. Bousquet says I approved the moving of the bridge terminal on the Dartmouth Common land in 1995. This is wholly incorrect. In fact, the land belonging to the Dartmouth Sportsplex had long been exempted from the Common as defined by the Dartmouth Common Act. Mr. Bousquet fashions this a “linguistic” problem. It was not. I chaired the Commons Committee and we knew exactly what land we were charged with responsibility for. He looks back through time without having the facts and tries to interpret what happened. He is just plain wrong.

In his subsequent column, Mr. Bousquet says that I “admitted that the city’s plan was consistent with the Dartmouth Commons Act.” This is something that I did not say.

Indeed, I tried to explain that such a use was inconsistent with the laws protecting the Dartmouth Common, and therefore an amendment to the legislation was requested by HRM to permit the expansion of the transit facilities. I further explained to him that the agreement to amend the Act was on the basis of a plan presented to legislators, including design sketches.

The subsequent design of the bridge terminal approved by Council did not reflect the design given to MLAs. I believe considered concern is appropriate when what you get is not what was promised. I also believe taking the time to review the proposal and reaching a better agreement is prudent. I believe in protecting our Common; I believe the city has to be liveable and attractive and I believe what is written has to reflect what was said and actually happened.

—Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia

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