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HRM’s Downtown is One of the Healthiest
(Friday, September 17,
2004) - Historical character, pedestrian friendly environment, a
strong employment base, and the presence of culture, universities
and government are behind Capital District’s success. That’s
according to the recent study The Successful Few Healthy Downtowns
of Small Metropolitan Regions, which names HRM as one of a handful
of mid-size cities across North America with a successful downtown.
"In contrast to many downtowns across North America that have experienced decline because of the growth of the suburbs, HRM has retained a strong employment base within its central core (40% of the region’s workforce),"says Jacqueline Hamilton, Capital District Project Manager for HRM. "We’ve also experienced growth in the population of the Capital District over the last several years."
Regional Planning research indicates most of the drivers of the region’s economy are centered within the Capital District and that is expected to continue to grow.
Halifax Regional Council took proactive steps in 2001 to focus resources on the Capital District with the launch of the Capital District Task Force. This group coordinates service delivery with the various agencies and departments within HRM’s core and over the last four years has seen increased and more focused public and private sector investment in the core area.
Through the task force, HRM staff worked togther with the area business commissions to purchase a new sidewalk sweeper and focus more resources on cleaning up litter and graffiti, particularly during the high tourist season from May to October.
A recent poll showed that the majority of respondents are satisfied with the municipality’s efforts to keep the Capital District clean of graffiti and litter, with 79% of respondents indicating HRM’s efforts are acceptable or better than acceptable.
Clearly, there is more work to be done in HRM’s Capital District. With success comes some challenges. Panhandling and homelessness, for example are social issues facing HRM and all major cities and reflect a lack of affordable housing and employment opportunities.
With the launch of the Capital District and Regional Planning projects, Regional Council has laid the foundation for change. These initiatives will explore tools that address these issues as well as mechanisms to ensure a continued strong Capital District, recognizing that the health of the downtown affects the health of the entire region.
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Capital District Project Manager