A mess of pottage
I have been contemplating the plans of the Archbishop to sell the lands adjacent to the St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica for high-rise development. The land in question, at the Spring Garden Road corner of Barrington Street, includes the old boys' and girls' school buildings which now house the Archdiocesan offices and several businesses, and the parking lot in back of the buildings. These properties have been part of the Catholic patrimony for over two centuries. One fears that this is the sale of the Halifax Catholic birthright for a mess of pottage. (For those unfamiliar with this Biblical allusion, it is an unwise surrender of that which is important for transitory gratification.) The Basilica is a National Heritage Site. Construction nearby will impinge on the view plane of the church and effect light entering the unique stained glass gothic windows on the northerly side, not to mention the Basilica will inevitably be damaged by any excavation work into the bedrock beside it. During construction one may well ask where parishioners will park, as no doubt the parking lot in use will be off limits. Surely this is one way to ensure a self-fulfilling prophecy—sell the church since worship is declining. Yes, the possibility of the latter happening would consolidate developers' hold on a major downtown block of land.
There is a need for Sacred Balance, being mindful of spiritual heritage while building for the future. Who is to benefit from the redevelopment, since the land will pass out of Archdiocesan ownership? Will the liturgy during the week have to be carried on with tremors and noise fallout, and for how long? Have all canon law requirements been followed? That responsibility rests squarely upon the shoulders of the bishop. The final question, therefore, is whether the sale of the property—which has now been confirmed—is actually for the Good, or for less worthy purposes? —Allen B. Robertson, Halifax
When it comes to what should be done with the former library, as discussed in last week's story "Province my sell old Spring Garden Road library to private developers" (City story by Jacob Boon), I totally agree with councillor Waye Mason: "That land should not be developed privately under any circumstances." —posted by Michael 1 at thecoast.ca
The Memorial Library on Spring Garden Road was built to honour those who gave their lives in the Second World War. Designed by architect Leslie Fairn, it is a work of memorial art. The Heritage Advisory Committee of HRM has recommended that the property be declared a registered heritage property; council has not yet made a decision on this recommendation.
The cost of refurbishing the building for another use is part of the cost of the move to the new library across the street.
This cost should have been budgeted as part of the budget for the new library, and we cannot consider that the new library is paid for until the Memorial Library has a viable new use. The federal government has allocated infrastructure money for the repair of municipally owned buildings; a plan should be developed and funds should be sought. —Phil Pacey, Halifax
Editor's note: After Boon's story was published, Department of Business spokesperson Toby Koffman got in touch to set the record straight about what Transportation Infrastructure Renewal department spokesperson Brian Taylor told Boon. The dream of Volta Labs taking over the dilapidated library building isn't "dead-in-the-water" as Boon wrote, so the online version has been updated to reflect that, and we are sorry that spokesperson Taylor didn't let us know in the first place.
If you wanted to "Learn non-binary drag with Rhett Slutler"—as last week's City story by Sally Hill encouraged—we hope we didn't steer you too far wrong by messing up the address for the venue. The event happened Tuesday at 6231 North Street, not 6321. Kate Watson's review of Shakespeare by the Sea's
Pinocchio ("Winning by a nose," Arts) was clearly glowing, but the accompanying photograph was probably confusing, as it was from SBTS's As You Like It. We apologize for both errors.