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Ten Halifax councillors wanted to be on Trade Centre Limited board of directors

There are still lots of unanswered questions about the new convention centre.

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The convention centre probably won't look like this early architectural rendering.
  • The convention centre probably won't look like this early architectural rendering.
As we go to press Wednesday, final architectural plans for the convention centre complex to be built in downtown Halifax will be made public. But all other details around the convention centre are still unknown.

Particularly vexing is the absolute silence from both the provincial and city governments about the management structure of the new convention centre. In theory, the governments will form a new organization or will re-organize the scandal-plagued Trade Centre Limited to operate the centre. But there’s been no public discussion of what the new organization will look like, city councillors have not been asked for their opinions or to sign off on a new organization and no decision has been made on one of the most politically sensitive issues: Will the city agree to pay part of the million dollar pension of long-retired TCL president Fred MacGillivray, who is also a close friend of mayor Mike Savage?

“Identifying the operator will be a joint decision between the province and HRM,” writes economic development minister Percy Paris in an email to The Coast, answering exactly none of our questions.

Meanwhile, 10 of the 16 city councillors asked to be on the board of TCL. Tuesday, council agreed to appoint Savage and councillors Lorelei Nicoll and Steve Craig to the board, giving their fourth appointment to a city staffer to be determined by CAO Richard Butts.

Why the keen interest in being on the TCL board? “They used to get free tickets to the Metro Centre,” explains councillor Brad Johns, who did not seek the appointment. “But they did away with that a few years ago. I think it’s just a high-profile committee, and it looks good on your resume.”

As TCL board members, councillors are also awarded a $100 per diem, plus "reasonable" reimbursement for expenses, but the per diem doesn't go to them personally, but rather the the council support office.

It’s also unknown who will rent the office space in the tower above the convention centre. Everyone in city and provincial government who has spoken to The Coast absolutely denies that the province’s deal with IBM includes the provision that the company lease the convention centre space. Time will tell.

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