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Tax Exemption Would Apply to Ice Surfaces Only

(Wednesday, May 4/2005)-- Deputy Mayor Len Goucher says a Private Member’s Bill now before the Legislature would provide property tax exemption on the ice surfaces only of a proposed new three-rink complex to be built in Bedford. Other parts of the buildings, the parking lot, concession areas etc. would be taxed.

Deputy Mayor Goucher said the exemption would permit the $15 million facility to move ahead and provide the residents of HRM with much-needed ice time for minor hockey,
ringette and other arena-type sports activities.

He said there appears to be a misunderstanding among the public and others that HRM is trying to provide a tax incentive to a private sector company in order for it to proceed with a development at the intersection of Highway 102 and Glendale Avenue in Bedford.

“The fact of the matter is, this is no different than the arrangement the Province of Nova Scotia has with the P-3 schools in Nova Scotia. The schools are privately owned, but because they are providing a service to the public that would ordinary be delivered by government, then they have been granted tax-exempt status. I don’t see any difference between that arrangement and what is being proposed for the Bedford area proposal.”

Councillor Goucher said HRM cannot afford to provide such a facility, but the private sector has stepped up and offered to provide the facility and rent ice time to those who need it. The new arena would relieve some of the growing pressure on other rinks throughout HRM to meet ice-time demands, thus filling the void. Also, the Burke-Oliver report cited Bedford as a high priority for a new ice surface. If Council agrees with the proposed tax exemption on the new ice surfaces, the Capital funds needed for the Bedford project could be directed elsewhere in HRM.

“We can’t service the needs of the people now, and many sports teams are forced to go outside the HRM just to find ice time for practices or games. The overcrowding is only going to get worse. These three new ice surfaces are badly needed and HRM can’t afford to build them. The private sector is,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Goucher said the developers have agreed to pay the $4.5 million cost of providing water and sewer services to the site, which in turn will lead to the future development of a planned hotel, a 150-bed senior citizens home, Children’s Safety Village, artificial turf fields and more.

“This project will not only meet our recreation demands in that area, but it will also pave the way for new developments which will result in new tax revenues for HRM. The Bill before the Legislature would apply to the ice surfaces only--the area that would be used by the residents of HRM--- not the entire facility,” he said.

Councillor Len Goucher
(902) 476-0021




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