Tuesday, June 23, 2009

846th Post - Things in Halifax That Just Don't Make Sense, Part Five

Welcome to the fifth edition of Bevboy's Things in Halifax That Just Don't Make Sense, TIHTJDMS. I publish these posts irregularly, when I feel like it, when I find something that may appear, at first glance, to be interesting or for the common good; but which, upon a bit of reflection, just doesn't make sense.

You are looking at pictures of the Halifax Common. It is a big, big piece of property in downtown Halifax. Originally, the land was about 3 times bigger than it is now, but over the years, it has been whittled down to what it is now. Huge tracts of land have been ceded over to schools, the CBC television building, and other things.

It is called The Common because it is supposed to be for the Commoners, the great unwashed, people like you and me. It is supposed to be full, unfettered, public property. The Pope, when he came here in 1984, held mass on the Common. I'm not Catholic, but I'd have no problem with such an event taking place there.

Today, the Common, what's left of it, is used for soccer and baseball teams to play on. They pay fees for the upkeep of the land. A friend of mine, who reads this blog, plays on a ball team there. Hello, Kirk. Perhaps you could comment on the fees you have to pay to use this land. Is it a fair fee, one designed to cover the costs of the upkeep, or does it strike you as excessive? Once again, I think it's a fine use of the space. Several teams can peacefully coexist side-by-side, while runners dash through the land between them.

As you can see, there is a fountain in the Common as well. It is a lovely fountain, minus the graffiti.

As much as I like the Common, as thousands of other Haligonians love the Common, I hate what it is becoming: A haven, a venue for large concerts. These are for-profit bands like the Rolling Stones, Keith Urban, Paul McCartney, and KISS, who play there, attracting tens of thousands of folks who run and jump and drink on the Common all day long.

After a concert, thousands of dollars are expended to clean the place up. After the Urban concert last year, the afore-mentioned team sports could no longer be played, as the Common land had been so damaged.

This year, McCartney plays on the 11th, and KISS on the 18th, of July. With the one week between the shows, there will be little time to bring the common land back to some kind of decent shape before the next set of people comes along and tramples everything.

I have a big problem with for-profit uses of this land. It is supposed to be for everyone. It is offensive to charge access to this property, especially such a fee that many cannot afford to pay. Especially when those bands are subsidized and seduced into coming by the city in the first place.

I was off sick on Monday, June 15th. I had a radio on to keep me company as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I listened to the Andrew Krystal show on the News 95.7 that morning. His main guest was Harold MacKay, of the company that is bringing shows to the Common. Krystal decried the naysayers who object to the use of the Common for this purpose. "If you don't want to go, nobody's forcing you to". "If you complain, then bands will stop coming here, so be quiet and be positive".

I'm sorry, Mr. Krystal; but this is a democracy. We have a right, a duty, even an obligation to express our opinion. You may not want to hear these opinions, but they exist, and have a right to do so. I have this humble blog, and hundreds of others in Halifax have their own blogs and have a right to express themselves as they see fit. If we do not agree with for-profit use of this land, then we are allowed to say that. You can't stop us. It is a free country. Those who feel we should not be able to say these things can always move to Iran. Their ilk is welcome there.

Let's face it, folks: Use of the Common for for-profit use just doesn't make sense. And it's immoral, too.

Next in this series: A tourist trap!



kevin.tillman said...

Bev, here's the somewhat official response to this debate


Bevboy said...

Hi. I am aware of this argument. I am not fighting you on this one.

But, let's talk about people's right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. Is that right not trampled on during these noisy events?


kevin.tillman said...

i too agree, the "common" should be open to all, at all times, free of cost. But alas our elected office disagrees with us.

BTW, i believe the majority of Haligonians call it the "Halifax Commons".
(although historically incorrect)

Bevboy said...

Some people call it the Common. Others, the Commons. I am not sure why it's called both things.

Heard on the radio this morning that, given the trend of sales of these concerts, the market may not even be there to continue having shows there. The Wanderer's Grounds may be used for them in the future. I'd have less of a problem with that: not many people live around there for one thing, and it's a bit more off the beaten path.

We'll have to wait and see.

Oh, Kevin? I discovered this evening that someone from downtownhalifax.ns.ca read this blog post! Pretty neat.