“Things will be great when you’re downtown…”
This is a lyric from the chorus of Petula Clark’s catchy 1965 song “Downtown”. It is also a message the Halifax Chamber of Commerce is hoping to spread amongst HRM with their new “I Love Working Downtown” initiative (halifaxchamber.com/downtown). And they are calling on downtown landlords, tenants, retail owners, and restaurateurs for help.
With the initiative, the Chamber is looking for proposals for “creating small, impactful activations” to be in buildings or organizations. These activations will “enhance the experience of people that work Downtown everyday, while enticing new workers and businesses to consider Downtown as the place they want to be.” Ten proposals will be selected and each of the winners will be given $6,000 to cover the costs of the project. Criteria for the submissions is the uniqueness of the ideas, along with the ease of implementation and overall alignment with the objectives of the “I Love Working Downtown” program.
Activations can be anything from a restaurant having an outdoor BBQ day for a building, to a landlord creating outdoor workspaces for its tenants.
“The program is federally funded by ACOA through their Rediscover Main Streets Initiative,” explains the Chamber’s Emma Menchefski. “We received funding and wanted to have as many (projects) as possible, so we decided to choose 10 projects (to maximize our funding).”
Downtown Halifax was booming pre-Covid with the most recent census data showing 26 percent growth, according to a February 2022 CTV News article. Which represented the fastest growth in Canada. But, COVID proved a large setback to this growth and HRM as a whole is seeing the growth that started in the 2010s to begin again.
“Our downtown, like all others across Canada, has suffered for the last two years,” says Mechefski. “We are glad to see promising numbers but it still needs our support to get to the thriving-stage.”