Halifax council receives Khyber building proposal

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Robin Metcalfe (pictured) says he’s hopeful that the 1855 Barrington Building Preservation Society proposal will not disappoint Halifax Council. (photo: Fadila Chater) Artwork by Mario Doucette

(Written on October 25, 2015)

By Fadila Chater

After a six-month collaboration, the 1588 Barrington Building Preservation Society has come up with a hefty proposal for Halifax council in maintaining the historic Khyber building.

The 127-year-old Khyber building contains asbestos and lead. Municipal staff recommended disposing off the building, but last year council voted to keep it. Council later gave the coalition six months to come up with a proposal to fix the building.

The 1588 society is a coalition of the Khyber Centre for the Arts Society, the Friends of the Khyber advocate group, the Neptune Theatre Society and musician Joel Plaskett.

Robin Metcalfe, director of Saint Mary’s University art gallery and president of the 1588 Society, is confident that the proposal will satisfy council.

“I think we have produced a very strong proposal. It’s very thoroughly researched with all the appropriate expertise,” said Metcalfe.

Halifax architect company, G.F. Duffus & Co. Ltd., has worked with the 1588 Society on a model that would increase space and accessibility in the Khyber and preserve the building’s historic characteristics. The proposal includes ramped access and an elevator.

The society has proposed to share building space with Neptune Theatre.


The Khyber
The Khyber building has been closed since April 2014 due to the discovery of asbestos in the building’s insulation. (photo: Fadila Chater)

“Neptune, as part of the theatre community, is also aware of the need for more small spaces for independent theatre, and that is one of the things we are addressing in the building. I think they just want to be good neighbours,” Metcalfe said.The proposed plan costs less than the estimated $4 million that HRM had calculated six months earlier.

“We have been very thorough in our costing. We have also been conservative in estimating our revenues and have given some leeway in estimating our costs,” said Metcalfe.

The society is now looking for commercial establishments that would complement the activities of the building and would also bring in revenue.

The proposal has been received by city councillors and could take months to be completely assessed.


NDP childcare promise neglects daycare availability say parents

Ian Grey, a father.

(Written on October 1st, 2015)

By Fadila Chater

The New Democratic Party have promised to implement the National Child Care Program. The program will make one million daycare spots for children over an eight-year span at the parents’ expense of $15-a-day.

NDP Member of Parliament, Megan Leslie, has spoken out about childcare reform. She has criticized the Conservatives for “helping the richest members of our society but refusing to help parents by investing in affordable child care services.”

For Ian Gray, a lawyer and young father, affording childcare wasn’t his primary concern. Finding 20-month-old Jimmy Gray a daycare in Halifax was nothing short of a daunting task.

“For us, what’s important is being able to have our kid cared for and that allows me and my wife to work,” says Gray

In the months leading up to Jimmy Gray’s first day of day care, Ian Gray sought childcare from his sister-in-law. It was months later that Gray’s colleague told him about a position available at Little Ladybug’s Child Care Centre.

Walker, Dunlop Barristers and Solicitors, where Ian Gray works [photo: Fadila Chater]
Although a supporter of the NDP, Gray is skeptical of the party’s $15-a-day National Child Care Program.

Statistics Canada states that in 2011 there were an estimated 2 217 355 children under the age of six living with a family. If the NDP’s National Child Care Program spaces one million spots evenly over the span of eight years, this means that 125 000 spots will be available each year. Less than six per cent of children, under the NDP National Child Care Program, will have a spot in daycare across Canada in one year.

“What I’d like to see rather is an increased emphasis on expanding access. The problem is that its hard to find a spot, not so much that the spot, once you find it, isn’t affordable.”