Environment featured Poverty

Judy Haiven: Five very nice things that $20 million could buy that aren’t a football stadium

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – HRM Council has voted to give $20 million to Schooner Sports and Entertainment (SSE) toward a football stadium. A stadium is for people (read: men and boys) who wish to pay to watch professional football. Let’s not pretend a stadium is for something else.  

Here are 5 big ideas that HRM could do with $20 million:

1.  Breakfast programs in every school for every student who wants to eat

Nourish NS estimates that a school breakfast program costs $1.00 per student.  In consultation with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (which encompasses the former Halifax-Dartmouth School Board), Nourish NS sets out the menus and the costs for school breakfast programs in Halifax-Dartmouth.  There are 52,000 elementary and secondary students in HRM. At $1.00 a day, times 174 school days each year, it would cost just over $9 million per year to give all students in HRM a healthy and varied breakfast. 


2.  Build 200 Affordable apartments in HRM

US sites indicate that to build one unit in an apartment building costs from $64,000 to $85,000.  The price includes appliances, carpeting, counters, cabinets, light fixtures, windows, wiring, etc.  Given materials and labour tend to cost more in NS, I suggest we take the average which is $75,000 per apartment, and add on another $25,000 to round off the cost to build each apartment $100,000.  $20 million dollars would buy 200 apartments.  True the cost of land is not included in the estimates, but we know the province and HRM have land to sell.  Just like the province or HRM will probably make a land deal for the stadium, we can hope they will give the land for affordable housing. 


3.  Add more buses and bus routes to Metro Transit

Each new bus costs about $550,000$20 million could pay for 30 new buses


4.  Help to pay for heating and electricity

 A few years ago, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia  (CCPA-NS) introduced the idea of a Universal Service Program (USP). The program would cover the baseload electricity and heating needs for households earning under $40,000 per year, if energy costs exceed 6% of the household’s income.  The USP program to assist 25,000 low income households in Halifax-Dartmouth would cost $16 million. 


5.  Subsidize high quality affordable child-care

For many years daycare advocates have called for a publicly-run child-care system.  Mount St Vincent University economics professor, James Sawler, says that, for example, every $1 Quebec puts into early childhood education, the province gets back $1.05, and the federal government gets back $0.45 in taxes.  This is because quality, dependable child-care increases women’s ability join the workforce, and increases their incomes. With better incomes, women then pay more taxes. Putting $20 million into a public child-care system (like our school system) would be a step toward high quality, affordable care for all families who want it. 


Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, a Halifax-based organization which fights bullying, racism and discrimination in the workplace. You can reach her at equitywatchns@gmail.com

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  1. Its not right to infringe/rape more land (labeled “Crown Land” which it is NOT) that belongs to First Nataions people to build a glorified football facility, we are not Americans so “stop it, just STOP IT”. If you want a local sport to support go with Lacrosse atleast its local and Nova Scotia has awsome teams AND for once you’d be supporting a First Nation sport instead of looking beyond. Be greatful for that and anyone can figure based on overcost history with the restoration of the Blue Nose and the Lunenburg ferry etc that it’s going to cost more like $50 plus million to build not $20 million. If your bored and have money to burn then go seek “PROFESSIONAL opinion from France, Greece or somewhere that can offer a FRESH perspective. Here’s some incentive for you, “build a Doctor’s retreat complete with all modern luxuries that will attract any physician as part of an aloring insentive to work here, live here and STAY here. (Honoring their contacts would help too) Some doctors are already moving here from Ontario because “we are nice” there’s a foundation to start on. “WE NEED HEALTH CARE MORE THAN A FOOTBALL FEILD”

  2. It’s funny how no one balked at over 100 million for hockey rinks and now another 80 million plus for 2 more NHL sized rinks at the forum.. The stadium IS for more than football, The stadium’s operating model also proposes to have year round programming facilitated by Sport Nova Scotia for youth and provincial sports organizations at no or minimal cost. HRM will also have access to the facility for programming. it will be used for a lot of sports, concerts, etc. and as usual this “author” is requesting things not funded by HRM, except Transit, sure put on more buses and have more people not take them because that is what happens and then when they take it away all 12 people that took it complain, so sick of the affordable housing argument, as that is a Provincial issue.. at least they left Health Care out of it this time it’s time to grow up Halifax and get a stadium 🙂

  3. It is never too late to denounce ridiculous ideas! Sports are good but before kids play sports they need food and basic needs fulfilled. I still hear the voice of a young single mom with a baby sharing her wish for cupboards full of food -she receive government support that was not sufficient to basic food provision. Yes people need food, a roof over their heads, heat in winter, a few hundred dollars for emergencies and many do not have these. Working parents deserve support with quality child care: they work for their families to avoid poverty but poverty is becoming increasingly difficult to escape. Many working men/women in this province work for minimum or close to minimum wages. A football stadium! An unneeded luxury! We do not even have a football team to pay for it. Such “entrepreneurs” want us paying for their big white elephant, making their money in the process. Does it matter whether we have been bamboozled before? Time to say “No” and protect ourselves from crooks. Government has to stop enriching “business people” who ask for government money for ridiculous projects never calling this “social assistance” as it is. Politicians need to listen to the majority of us not just the rich. Shame on our leaders for not addressing the real “needs” of people but instead attending to the “wants” of few with $.

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