By Megan Marrelli-Dill
It might seem free, but you’re paying for it. The money for Halifax’s new outdoor skating oval comes out of your pocket.
The oval, located on the Halifax Common, was originally built for the 2011 Canada Games. Since then it’s been reconstructed as a permanent attraction.
City councillor Jennifer Watts explains that currently, “the costs are covered through the regular budget, through the tax rate.”
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That means a 0.8 per cent increase in taxes.
The site offers free skate and helmet rentals. They even offer free skating aides and lessons for those who have never been on ice before.
John Henry, a manager of community recreation with the HRM, is behind the day-to-day operation of the oval.
He explains, “We also have sponsorship that has been heavily involved. Emera came on with a substantial contribution, and we’ve had Molson and many others that are still interested in assisting and helping out.”
There was some controversy around Molson sponsoring the oval.
Watts says, “There was discussion that, if this is a place where we want to promote health and outdoor activity, is a Molson advertisement really what we want to do?”
Health centers such as the IWK and Capital Health warned the HRM that there is a direct correlation between advertising and underage drinking.
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Despite the debate, Molson is sponsoring the oval along with energy company Emera, the Canadian Figure Skating Association and the Canada Games.
“It’s important to keep the oval free,” says Watts. “And at this point I haven’t heard anything about charges for rentals or admission. I personally would not support that. It’s a free service, just like our parks and beaches.”