Tim Bousquet’s article on Victoria Park (“The park that works despite itself,” Feature, January 10) needs some fact-tweaking but the take-away should be that a poorly used and dilapidated space was changed because non-profit groups, business and government cooperated to revitalize that park. And HRM has left the job uncompleted.
When the Public Gardens entrance was “re-designed” with suburban Toronto flagstone, the Sir Walter Scott statute was put in storage. It had been moved there from its original placement at Dalhousie. The Scots helped the rescue.
Along with the Friends of the Halifax Public Gardens and the Spring Garden Area Business Association (spearheaded by Jane McClellan, formerly of Mills Brothers), Bernard Smith and Peta Jane Temple of the HRM grants department insisted that the HRM had loaned money for a Dartmouth project and funds could be on a repayable and reliable basis. The Scots paid for the movement of Robbie Burns’ statue so that a “forum” could be created and landscaped and benches upgraded. The memorial bricks were meant to finance the same and Shaw Brick helped in that regard. Lighting was to be upgraded by HRM.
When Jane McClellan inaugurated the restored grounds she reminded us of the spectacular Canadian and Haligonian literary legacy of South Park Street—Hugh McLennan, Robert McNeil, Thomas Raddall and nearby neighbours Charles Ritchie, Anna Leonowens, Stewart Leslie, Will Bird, Hal Foster, Archibald McMechan and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Maybe now’s the time to honour them with a plaque in the much-visited park to tell visitors some of the real Halifax story. —Bill Jordan, Halifax
Tim, it would be good to sort recreational facilities from parks (“How to fix the city,” January 10). The Oval is not a park, it is a piece of recreational infrastructure in a park. The beach volleyball facility downtown is not a park, it is recreational infrastructure (in a former parking lot). Granted, we could manage our HRM parks, particularly the ones inside the commercial and residential areas, better—indeed, much better. I live in Halifax, but frequently spend long periods in Europe. There are many parks in European cities where there are no vendors and no legal alcohol sales, and those parks are well used. Where there ARE cafes and bars, the parks are also well frequented. But let’s remember that most European countries have a different culture than Canada—it would take some time for alcohol vending in Halifax green spaces to work well. I support trials, especially in the downtown core. Your article totally ignores the very significant attachment city people have to naturalized green space in their cities. Well designed, such spaces WILL be used and much appreciated. I strongly encourage you and Coast readers to have a look at Richard Louv’s book The Nature Principle. Alcohol is highly unlikely to improve the health of urban citizens, but improved natural spaces definitely will. —Peter Duinker, Halifax
“How to fix the city” was a wonderful idea. The solution to fix the dangerous, underused Dartmouth Common is to sell alcohol there. It’s like I told a friend the other day—so many things in life would work so much better if alcohol were involved. Yes, I was kidding. But I think Tim Bousquet is absolutely on the right track, that opening up the Dartmouth Common, and maybe the Halifax Common, to vendors and picnickers and a children’s playground could very well achieve the critical mass of people to make these currently desolate areas attractive features of our city, rather than dangerous ones. —Kathleen Morrison, Halifax
HRM as a whole has an amazing network of green spaces and parks that are viewed and managed the same as buildings in the downtown. We are restricted by too much old-school thinking: build more of the same according to a set of pre-defined rules, and try not to piss off as many people as possible in the final design. Where every budgetary dollar is being fought over, there are huge opportunities for private and corporate partnerships being missed. Unfortunately the end result is a lot of our new parks end up like our old parks. The public is uninformed. —posted by Parks 4 people at thecoast.ca