Over the past several months, there has been a divisive public debate over a proposal to build a new convention centre in Halifax. Some contend the convention centre will bring substantial economic benefits to the city and province. Others contend it is destined to become an economic albatross hung round the neck of the hapless taxpayer.
In much of the public debate, proponents and opponents have selectively presented facts to bolster their respective positions, resulting in diametrically opposed scenarios. Furthermore, the information contained in the various consultants’ reports that form the basis of the proposal is frequently dense, complicated, jargon-ridden, and difficult to compare.
This report attempts to clear up the confusion by examining the finances and assumptions underlying the proposal, providing a critical context in which to analyze its potential costs, benefits, and associated risks. Where applicable, the proposal is placed in a comparative context, examining issues such as private versus public ownership, the design of the proposed centre, and other convention centre development projects currently underway in Canada.