Back in the Day
myhalifaxca started when I moved here in Jan /68 & I decided I wanted to get to know my way around so I would walk down to Dutch Village & Mumford and caught the first bus that came belong & stayed on it till I got back to where I started, At 14 & fresh out of Sydney, we were the first of our family to move UP to Halifax, there were only 6 Muises’ in the phone book – there are how pages full which is either a testament to the migration of people from rural Nova Scotia or to the Muise family fertility (a little of both).
I must have been quite the novelty because the bus driver started telling me about what I was seeing out the windows. After a full week of riding around in circles my personal tour guide and historian suggested I transfer to another rout at Sears & see a different area. He actually walked me to the suggested bus, introduced me to the new driver & told him to give me the Royal Tour and so it went…every day from early January till school was out for the summer.
That first summer we were members at the Waegwoltic & I took my two younger sisters to the club every day for 9:00am where we took lessons till 3:30pm and then home again. That trip home by bus could take 1.5 hours the traffic on Bayers Road was always stopped in place with no where to go.
The trams were still running & the area we lived in was still in the county;
- Scotia Square was well under construction and opened in 1968-69. Al the rubble that came out of the buildings that were demolished and most of the stone excavated to make room for that project ended up as infill in the Halifax harbor and now forms the base of Bishops Landing.
- Amalgamation of the county regions of Spryfield, Fairview, Clayton Park and Rockingham with the ‘old city’ meant that Halifax doubled in size.
- Restoration work started on ‘Historic Properties’ and the harbor was again filled to allow the construction of what was then the Sheraton Hotel (now the Marriott Harborfront) and later the Purdy’s Wharf development and finally the Casino Nova Scotia.
But all that’s History. On more than one occasion I’ve been known to say….“History is history… I can’t do anything about it…. save what is worth saving and move on and make history.”
That is the central question behind a whole series of events that have played out in the local papers culminating in an open spat between the Mayor of Halifax and a group of “disgruntled” business people. Even to the casual observer its clear that Halifax has reached a transition point and the city is having some growing pains.
In reality since the forced & surprised amalgamation of the region into one municipality on April 1 1996 the Municipal Government has been coasting with out any real direction of vision and the administration has been nothing more than a caretaker. The Halifax that we now inhabit is the Halifax that was designed in the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s. The little bit of new construction in the downtown were all projects that had been in the planning stages for years.
A lot has changed in the last 35 years, mostly for the better, but myhalifax is at a crucial point in its development. Growing pains would be one way to describe it, we’ve just about tripled the population base & have grown geographically.
With the growth in population has come a diversity of the population & a dynamic economy. The boom and bust of the 60’s has been replaced by an economy based in the service industry, government, education and myhalifax has become a regional corporate center. The combination of population growth & a new ‘regional capital’ attitude, along with the shift to an Information Technology centered economy has changed the demands faced by the municipality.
Planning & Development:
After the impact of the John Savage enforced amalgamation it took several years to realign the staff and departments involved in the planning & development process. What had been 4 separate offices, complete with staff, individual processes & most importantly separate design ideology, strategy & goals all had to be merged into one cohesive system with a common plan.
The system that had existed was designed to service a much slower design & application process, and a slower moving development market back in the ’70’s & 80’s. There were only a hand full of local developers with the depth to take on large projects and the market at the time just couldn’t absorb more than was completed.
The market has grown and there are new players, local developers with deep pockets willing to take the risk of a world class development. Horror stories of 5 – 10 years of application & public Hearings are common.
If this system is allowed to drag its heals sooner or later the money & the developers will go elsewhere.
Back in the early 70’s & 80’s Halifax was actually considered to be in the ‘armpit of the universe’. The combination of a small market, distance from any major population, and a very ’small town / conservative attitude really put a damper on the growth of the area. Local developers and entrepreneurs had to rely on their own [family] recourses to start and run any project.
The local ‘Risk Takers’ were few in number and very protective and conservative in their investments. Every new project that was presented was considered a threat to the existing businesses & once a potential investment was shown to a few possible investors the whole business community knew what the plan was. Hopefully thats changed for the better it certainly seems to have, Halifax has a whole new crop of mover and shakers, more in number, deeper pockets and quicker to take risks. That changed attitude along with the increased pace of life and quicker concept development means that Halifax’s old slow system doesn’t work any more and needs to be revamped.
myhalifax of 2008 demands more of its administrators, more infrastructure, more recreation, more services, more fun, more everything.
The purpose of this Blog is to look at some of the issues & situations that currently face the decision makers of Halifax and see how the community reacts to the political platforms that will be used in the next election this October.
This site was originally put together as a response to comments made by Mayor Peter Kelley in the local media where he referred to several groups of business, arts & community people as ‘disgruntled business men suffering from Commonwealth Games hangovers”. Each of these groups came together out of the need to find a better way to promote their industry and Halifax as a great place to live.
Until the unfortunate comments made by Mayor Kelley there was no indication of a rift between the groups and the city.
If you were to see the members list of all the groups in question a couple of interesting points would emerge:
The demographics of the groups pretty well run the gamete… from university students to retired government employees to the movers and shakers of the city
YES some of the names on the members lits of those groups would have also appeared on the Commonwealth Games Committee. Give me a break… are you aware how many ‘disgruntled business people’ gave of their time and energy to develop the bid for the games
Just maybe there was more commitment to the games within the business community than either the Mayor or ATV will ever admit.
If you were to poll the members of these groups and asked why they were involved [in that group] the common denominator would be the desire to help Halifax grow to become the fabulous city of their dreams. In as a close second would be the desire to feel that they are giving back to the community where they have chosen to live.
You would not find a single individual who would say that they’re involvement [in the group] was because of a “Commonwealth Games Hang Over” or that they were disgruntled with Mayor Kelly and felt that the group would allow them to topple his hold on the position.
Small minds are amused by petty things … an unfortunate choice of words … maybe but for the Mayor of the city to use those words certainly indicates where his weaknesses are located.
Halifax would be hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014
Any group of business people who came forward would be received with open arms and ways of working together to promote Halifax would be explored. The more community supported projects the better.
It all comes down to attitude.
Give me the right attitude and anything is possible.
As I started putting this Blog together I felt it would be beneficial to pull as many of the ongoing issues that have been dragging around in Halifax for years and are no closer now to a resolution than they were years ago.
This Blog consists of my views & opinions and:
- is not intended to be anti Kelley or anti counsel
- it is not my intension to be a negative comment on life in Halifax.
- As much as possible my discussion of any of the issues will be an objective comment as I see it.
- I will attempt to balance any criticism with some constructive suggestions for solutions
In order to develop this site I’ve drawn extensively on the resources of our local media and their columns, authors and the opinions expressed by their readers. As you will see I’m not the only voice in the wilderness that feels Halifax needs a new direction from its leaders.
Lets be clear I feel Halifax is a great town & ‘we’ need to think seriously about the next step in our development. The city of Halifax is at one of those trip lines with several directions in which it can go … now’s the time for strong leaders with a vision and determination to make the decisions necessary to take this ‘little city’ into the future and be the ‘Halifax’ we’d all be proud to call home.
Do we have those leaders on council now?
Did I mention the Cat By Law?