Halifax is a great city with a great future. We have a near perfect small city here, it is alive with great people, culture, and industry, and if we all begin by saying yes then the opportunities for our city are endless.

I am sure you are thinking ok, so we just need to start thinking positive, how hard can that be? And you are right, it shouldn’t be that hard to start thinking positive, but it is keeping the positivity that takes work.  We all need to do our part to be positive, to ask questions but to start with yesYes to development, yes to moving the economic strategy forward, yes to arts and culture, yes to working to attract and retain vibrant people to our city. The questions will bring out what needs to be worried about but if we don’t envision the positive end product and aggressively pursue it we will never get past the reluctance to change and adapt to the future.

There is a need in Halifax for a brighter outlook for the future of the city, and it seems in recent months there has been. HRM by Design is an excellent example of this. The HRM by Design consultation process has had great buy-in from people in the city who are all excited to say yes to moving forward and making Halifax a better place to live, work and do business.

Halifax is not the first city that has decided to make a concerted effort to approach the future and positive change with open arms and open minds. Toronto, New York, Hamilton, British Columbia and particularly Vancouver all broke free of the cobwebs of indifference to face the future with a brighter attitude. When you start this process you are adopting new behaviours and that can cause a little pain as you venture out from your comfort zone. But like starting a new exercise program that initial discomfort becomes a tangible signal that great things are on the horizon. Embrace the discomfort, celebrate the change, and reap the rewards of the better future that you made happen.

We need to continue as a community, as a city, to think positively and expect great things from ourselves, from each other and for the future.  And I believe this can all be achieved by simply starting with yes.

Originally appeared in Business Voice Magazine, December 2007