Confused Council – Halifax Skating Oval & Plaza Sponsorship

As reported online by CBC last week Halifax regional council voted last Tuesday to approve two corporate sponsorships for the skating oval: Emera and Molson Coors. Emera — the parent company of Nova Scotia Power — will contribute $500,000 over 15 years to put its name on the signs around the skating oval. Molson Coors will spend $400,000 over 10 years to put its name on the adjacent plaza, to be used for entertainment and food.

Not a lot of people want to put some money toward this, but those two companies did. One was willing to actually take on the special events plaza and let the other have the oval for sponsorship,” said Dawn Sloane, one of 17 councilors who voted in favor of giving Molson Coors the naming rights to the plaza. “That’s what community is about, isn’t it? When you co-operate and help each other, whether you’re a big company or a small company. That’s what we saw happen out there.” There will be about 40 signs and banners on the oval site, with Emera having the naming rights to most of them. Molson Coors’ name will appear on about a dozen signs.

It’s a change from a decision made last month, when regional council initially rejected the financial sponsorship from Molson Coors in a private meeting. About a week later, council decided to revisit the issue, in part due to lobbying from the Save the Oval Association — a community group that pushed for terms of the sponsorship to be discussed in a public setting.

Gloria McCluskey was one of six councilors on Tuesday who voted against the beer company’s sponsorship. She said previous statements from Dr. Robert Strang — the province’s chief public health officer — and officials at the IWK Health Centre convinced her that putting beer advertisements around public spaces will encourage young people to start drinking. “They are people who’ve seen the results of youth drinking at such an early age and they say advertising plays a big role in that,” McCluskey told CBC News after the vote. Bob Harvey, another councilor who voted against Molson Coors’ sponsorship, said the skating oval should be free of commercialization. “This particular facility is … the people’s oval. It should be left that way without commercialization of any kind,” he said.

Peter Kelly, the mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, said he has no problem taking money from a beer company and putting its name on the banners. He told CBC News that with so few sponsors coming forward, it was an offer no one could refuse. “It’s better than no deal at all and it’s $1 million overall that we have received from different organizations,” said Kelly. “We have the Emera proposal for the $500,000. Of course we have the $400,000, we have $100,000 from the skate organizations. That’s $1 million we would not ordinarily have.

The skating oval is expected to open in next week.


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