“Build it and they will come”. “Save it and they will come”. These are the two battle cries being heard currently in Halifax. Our Downtown is in transition with several developments pending and on the way. So what’s the problem? HRM by Design has been adopted. This year’s cruise ship visits are up to 130 with thousands of visitors roaming the streets, taking tours and excursions to Peggy’s Cove.
The problem is our own citizens have given up. They have been snookered into the Western style of living. Big Box stores, driving from store to store in retail parks for bargains on white tube socks. Buying in bulk like the apocalypse is coming.
No parking, Parking Nazis, Winter Parking Bans, bad weather, too spread out, not my type of store, fear of swarming, violence, drugs, drunks, same ol same, Nothing new, too far from home, bus schedule. Sound familiar? These are the typical excuses I hear when I ask someone why they do not frequent our downtown. Very disheartening. Many of these comments are myths. Case and Point:
No Parking? Or perhaps too lazy to walk a ½ a block.
Parking Nazis? Perhaps you didn’t find a meter or parking spot geared for your needs.
Parking Bans. What are you doing Drinking and Driving? And have you ever checked out Park after Dark? 6 bucks will allow you to park from 6pm to 8am.
Too Spread out? You drive from store to store at the retail parks, perhaps you don’t realise you are wasting fuel.
I could go on, but then this blog would be 5000 pages long.
Whose fault is it that the Downtown isn’t what every one wants it to be? Well, several decades’ people vacating the peninsula, several bad planning decisions, several unfortunate mistakes that cannot be changed overnight.
How can we change this? Commercial tax reform is one solution. Making it fiscally viable for a company to be in the Downtown of Halifax or Dartmouth would be a start. We are relying on these areas to generate high taxes to subsidize other municipal infrastructure for an area as large as Prince Edward Island for God’s sake!
We need to stop the bleeding. We need to stop it now or we are in serious trouble. Taxes everywhere will rise as our downtowns decline. This will be disastrous to our economy and to your savings.
So what about the convention centre proposal? Will it be our “white knight” and save us from this tipping point? No, it probably won’t, but it will provide jobs, something new, parking, and replacements to those individuals who have given up on our downtown. Temporarily, but at least they will frequent the restaurants, hair salons, shops, destinations like the museums, hotels, and other amenities.
I’m stopping my rant here as it is time to go to sleep. Just think of what I have been saying, whether you agree with me or not. This is your downtown you need to be a part of the solution or wait for your taxes to rise.