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Halifax seeks cut of federal funding for Canada's 150th celebration

The municipality has applied for government largesse covering this country's sesquicentennial, but city staff are a little light on the details. One pile of money Halifax officials have already received contained $130,000 for New Year’s Eve revelry last December.
halifac city hall (1)
Halifax Regional Municipality has applied for federal funding to help it celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, though city staff aren't saying how much has been asked for. (LOCAL XPRESS / File)

As two Maritime provinces battle for tourism-related “birthplace of Confederation” bragging rights, Nova Scotia’s capital is diligently seeking federal funds available to municipalities planning to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are engaged in public chest-thumping over which place did more to help then-separate colonies form a single country back in 1867.

Halifax city hall, meanwhile, has already tapped into Ottawa’s taxpayer-fuelled Canada 150 Fund, grant money acquired to mark the sesquicentennial. According to a city hall spokesman, one sack o’ cash Halifax officials received contained $130,000 for New Year’s Eve revelry last December.

Halifax is also seeking additional monies from the program, though city staff are a little light on the details.

News reports in January said the Trudeau government is dishing out $500 million to commemorate the special anniversary of Confederation. Applications for government largesse through the federal program closed on Oct. 21, 2016. Like Halifax, cities, towns and villages across the country have applied for funding. 

Canada will turn 150 years old on July 1, and Canada Day this year falls on a Saturday.

Guidelines for Ottawa’s Canada 150 Fund, run by Canadian Heritage, say there’s no limit to the number of projects or programs that may be supported for any one applicant. While the fund “can support up to 100 per cent of eligible expenses, applicants are strongly encouraged to secure other cash or in-kind sources of funding,” they say.

Halifax has been selected by Canadian Heritage “as one of the 19 landmark cities recognized” as centres for Canada 150 festivities, a city hall communications staffer said Thursday. Ottawa is expected to make announcements in the near future on the amount of public money that’ll be granted to municipalities across the country.

Recipients must trumpet how the money was sent their way, the fund’s guidelines say. They’ll have to “publicly acknowledge, in English and French, the financial support received from the government of Canada in all communication materials and promotional activities related to the funding agreement.”

Brendan Elliott, a communications adviser at Halifax city hall, said in late February that upcoming municipal events haven’t been announced. But, at some point, city staff are intending to file a Canada 150 Fund-related report with Halifax council that’s to contain details and cost amounts.

Elliott said there’s another federal program that’s connected to Canada’s big birthday — the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. This one is administered by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The program will be in effect until March 31, 2018.

It can support up to 50 per cent of a project’s cost, an agency website says. “Preference may be given to projects that only require one-third funding from the program,” it says.

ACOA’s program application must include “a description on how the project will contribute to Canada’s legacy and have a lasting impact of Canada’s infrastructure,” the website says.

Elliott declined to describe what proposed projects Halifax city hall has submitted to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. He told Local Xpress the agency’s funding rules include contract signing and announcement terms that temporarily tie the municipality’s hands.

At Province House, the McNeil government has announced a $4-million 150 Forward Fund linked to the sesquicentennial. The deadline for applications for provincial cash, given only to Nova Scotia’s nonprofit groups, was Feb. 28.

Of that $4 million, $1.5 million has been earmarked for the Rendez-Vous 2017 tall ships regatta, CBC News reported last summer.

Another anniversary — this one will be far more sobering — is also going to happen in Halifax this year. Public events will be held to mark the centennial, in December, of the Halifax Explosion. The homage is starting early; a music concert related to the remembrance is set for March 25 at the Halifax Central Library.

Michael Lightstone is a freelance reporter living in Dartmouth.


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