[HALIFAX, NS] — The Halifax Regional Municipality ranks near the bottom of 10 Canadian cities in terms of investing in the downtown, a new report finds.
According to the report, commissioned by 10 downtown development commissions and compiled by the Canadian Urban Institute, downtown Halifax has received just $34 million in municipal investments since 2000. London, Ont., comparable in size to HRM, invested over $174 million between 1998 and 2011.
“HRM hasn’t … invested as heavily as many other downtowns,” researcher Katherine Morton told a crowd of about 100 at Neptune Theatre on Wednesday afternoon. “(But) the central library project really is symbolic of how the municipality is really starting to show leadership in the downtown … the convention centre is another one, (while) it hasn’t been included in this calculation, it is yet again another symbol of downtown Halifax really emerging as an important place to invest in.”
It wasn’t all bad news, however. Among the 10 cities surveyed, Halifax came first in “walkability” despite what Morton called “challenging topography” — or hills.
Indeed, most of the presentation focused not on the amount of money flowing in from various levels of government, but rather what other cities are doing to address similar issues as those facing Halifax.
Those ideas are ripe for “stealing,” according to Downtown Halifax Business Commission CEO Paul MacKinnon.
MacKinnon referenced a number of issues facing the downtown — from homelessness and poverty to proper public transportation to population density. Ottawa, for instance, waived development fees for downtown residential projects and has recovered those lost revenues in a larger tax base.
The full report, called The Value of Investing in Canadian Downtowns, can be found at the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s website – downtownhalifax.ca .