The $164.2-million facility will be cost-shared with the federal government, which means each level of government will pay $56.4 million.
The convention centre will be part of a larger project developed by Rank Inc.
The Nova Centre project includes a hotel, office tower, retail shops and restaurant space.
The Halifax region has agreed to purchase the existing World Trade and Convention Centre should the province fail to sell it before the new convention centre opens.
Mayor Peter Kelly issued a statement saying the region has been waiting a long time to get all of the elements ready for the project.