I have been asked to provide some larger context for tonight’s discussions about Nova Centre. That context begins with understanding that…A healthy urban core is the most powerful tool available for addressing the rapidly emerging financial and environmental challenges facing all cities. A vibrant and prosperous urban core is highly sustainable due to its density, walkability, and use of existing “bought and paid for” infrastructure and services. But we must also remember that the province of NovaScotia is a “community of communities” in which the diversity of choice for living arrangements from urban to suburban to rural, from seaside to forest to farm, is one of our primary and most enviable assets. And that asset must be nurtured. If given the opportunity, the urban core of Halifax can create wealth with which to help support amenities and services for all of Nova Scotia’s communities.
This is borne out by a 2009 report prepared by The Premier’s Economic Advisory Panelcalled“Addressing NovaScotia’s Fiscal Challenge.” This report found that, quote“...the prospects for Nova Scotia are now inextricablylinked to the success of its largest urban area.” unquote.This finding supports the Conference Board ofCanada’s 2006 designation of HRM as the “Hub City” of Atlantic Canada., and the need to focusinvestment within the Regional Centre (the “hub of the hub”) to ensure the fiscal health of the entiremunicipality.The report concluded that when economically dominant, or “hub” cities in Canada prosper, so do smaller communities in their province or region. With the recent economic uncertainty in some areas of the province, these words, and the actions with which we choose to back them up, have never been more important.
Over the last several decades HRM has seen enormous growth and investment in its suburban areas, while over the same period of time, the urban core and downtown Halifax have seen a steady loss of population, jobs, and both private and public investment to outlying low-density car-oriented areas.In the past 5 years alone, low density suburban and rural areas have captured 12% more residential growth than anticipated by our 25 year growth plan (called the Regional Plan) while at the same time the urban core , also known as the Regional Centre, has captured 36% less than anticipated.CLICKOver the past four years the suburban market has captured 96% of all office space built in HRM, while the downtown has only seen 4% of that growth. This imbalance has far-reaching implications for the environment, public health, resource and energy consumption, our ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and municipal servicing costs and the stability of the tax rate.
Because this situation simply cannot be sustained in a rapidly changing world, we are faced with a moral urgency to densify population, jobs and both public and private investment in the dense, compact, walkable Regional Centre. Which as you can see here is comprised of the Halifax Peninsula and the area of urban Dartmouth that falls within the arc of the circumferential highway.Because of this urgency HRM has been very clear in the last several years in renewing its focus on the Regional Centre.
This renewed focus has come in the form of 5 major initiatives, which I have had the pleasure and honour of being intimately associated with. They are:- CLICK: The HRMbyDesign Downtown Halifax Plan, which reinvented planning and development in our downtown, so that we could begin to rebuild a beautiful, vibrant and prosperous downtown.- CLICK: The HRMbyDesign Centre Plan, which promises to do for the entire Regional Centre what the downtown plan did for downtown.- CLICK: Regional Plan 5 Year Review, thru which the citizens of this community have already said that the Regional Centre must be better positioned to attract growth and investment because our collective wish for a sustainable future depends on it. - CLICK: An initiative known as “Capital Ideas, Leveraging Urban Investment for Regional Prosperity” which is a very candid assessment of the challenges facing the urban core, and a detailed blueprint for addressing those challenges.- CLICK: And finally “A Greater Halifax - HRM’s 2011-2016 Economic Strategy” which in unmistakable tones sets out the case for public and private investment in the urban core, to reach its stated goal of “Building a vibrant and attractive Regional Centre that attracts $1.5 billion dollars of private investment and 8,000 more residents by 2016.”
And these incredible efforts have begun to pay dividends. This is easy to see these 7 major development projects that have been approved under the downtown plan since it’s 2009 adoption……and by the recent appearance of multiple construction cranes on our skyline.As a result, in the past few years we have seen more private development in downtown Halifax than we had seen in the previous 20 years combined.
We have seen the community come together around the Skating Oval on the Commons – a project that has redefined how we experiencewinter in this city.
We have seen this community embrace the Sands at Salter – a wonderful gift from the Waterfront Development Corporation that delights us as residents alongside every visitor to the waterfront.
Easy to see by the emergence on Spring Garden Road, day by day, of the new Central Public Library, which is heralding a new and progressive era in the history of the city, in which we embrace change, embrace opportunity, and in which we all answer our city’s call to do better for our city.This new life that is being breathed back into our city is the result of hard work, the result of a spirit of innovation, the result of deep engagement and dialogue with the community, and the result of a willingness on the part of this community to take creative risks. A willingness to set aside cynicism and apathy.And those are things that are being asked of us now, as we undertake to Build our Centre. The library, some of the other projects I have shown, and now the Nova Centre, are pieces of cultural infrastructure that are the beginnings of a winning hand for Halifax, and for all of Nova Scotia. And we are all free to dream about what other projects might make that winning hand even stronger.
What we are seeing, at long last, is the upward spiral being into motion – the upward spiral in which a successful urban core will uplift the entire province. Which is what we learned in a previous slide from the Premier’s Economic Advisory panel, and from the Conference Board of Canada. That “...the prospects for Nova Scotia are now inextricablylinked to the success of its largest urban area.” CLICK:it starts by improving the livability, beauty and functionality of the Regional CentreCLICK:In doing so we can draw a critical mass of people to live and work and do business downtown...CLICK:which in turn creates economic activity, commerce, andprosperity...CLICK:this prosperity can then be directed toward investment in cultural initiatives and cultural infrastructure (such as libraries rec. Centres, performing arts venues, art galleries, etc.)...CLICK:which in turn further improves livability, and the upward spiral continues, on and on.All we need to do is place our hand on this wheel and give it a little spin to get it going:CLICK
Tonight everyone here has made the time, and found the courage, to help uplift Halifax for the benefit of all Nova Scotians. I thank you for that, and for your kind attention.
Nova Centre The Urban Context
Nova Centre HRM is the Economic and Social Engine of the Maritimes
Nova Centre Where we have been growing (+12%) (-36%) New Residential Units New Office Space 2006-2011 (Source: CMHC) 2008-2011 (Source: CBRE)
Nova Centre The Upward Spiral Livability Walkability, Convenience, Transit, Leisure, Beau ty, Amenity & Community A Successful Culture Urban Core Critical Mass Identity, Distinction, Intera Density of Uses & Activity ction & Exchange Uplifts the Entire Province Prosperity Economic & Social Growth