Marching towards a sustainable, inclusive, affordable, and economically strong future.

Marching towards a sustainable, inclusive, affordable, and economically strong future.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Guest Post | Contributors: Mayor Mike Savage | Published: April 4, 2023

This past fall marked a decade for me as Mayor — an anniversary that makes me reflect on the past and think about the future. I came to City Hall in 2012 determined to meet my campaign commitments to seize the opportunities before us and to live up to our vast potential.

I believed we could reduce the out migration of young people, and stem the brain drain of talent. That we could broaden and deepen our economy while taking better advantage of our enviable coastal location.

In short, it was long past time our city grew up and stepped into its ambitions. After all, what was the alternative, to remain a comfortable yet stagnant city, a slow march toward economic irrelevancy?

So, we chose optimism and hard work — as a community and with many great partners, including the Chamber. Ten years on it’s fair to say our successes are evident: from the cranes that dot the skyline and our expanding economy, to nation-leading population growth and an impressive track record on events such as the World Junior Hockey Championship and the upcoming North American Indigenous Games.

I well recall the day we unveiled our Economic Plan 2016-2021. It included a target of achieving a population of 550,000 by 2031 — at a time when our population was just over 410,000. Today, we are hitting (and surpassing) targets many saw as out of reach.

Between July 2021 and July 2022, Halifax grew by 20,713 people, the largest annual increase in population that Halifax has ever seen, bringing our population to 480,582. Our 4.5 per cent growth rate ranked us first among Canada’s large cities. What’s most exciting is that nearly half of our net international and interprovincial migration is from people aged 18-35, the young people we need to study, work, and build careers here.

Working with the Halifax Partnership, our new economic plan, People. Planet. Prosperity. Halifax’s Inclusive Economic Strategy 2022-27, has been informed by more than 2,500 business leaders, residents, and partners throughout the municipality.

These people are invested in Halifax’s future, but also share worries about housing affordability, climate change, and social inclusion. If we are to meet our commitments to responsible growth, we must ensure the benefits of growth are accessible to all.

We know the only true future is a green future. So, as we work to build sustainable, connected, affordable communities, we must similarly build a resilient green economy. We can turn the challenge of our lifetime into our greatest hope — for generations to come.

The last Council became the second in Canada to declare a climate emergency, and as a result we are now moving on the recommendations of the landmark HalifACT municipal climate change plan.

HalifACT is not simply about the retrofitting of our buildings and the electrification of transit and fleet, it’s about how we encourage businesses and residents to follow suit.

In November, I had the opportunity to attend COP27, in Egypt, as part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities delegation — and in my role as chair of the Big City Mayors Caucus. Wherever we went, people were keen to hear about Halifax’s bold ambitions for a greener future.

I am similarly heartened by the cooperation we see across orders of government, including significant increased spending for affordable housing and supportive services.

In January, Council approved the third round of federal funding under the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) — $11 million that will see at least 37 new units of permanent supportive housing constructed.

This is in addition to those we’ve already approved in the first two rounds. We’ve turned RHI funds into approvals for deeply needed affordable housing solutions for 135 people, through our work with the following community partners: The Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre, Adsum, the North End Community Health Centre, the Affordable Housing Association of NS, Akoma in Dartmouth, and Souls Harbour in West Chezzetcook.

We are taking a variety of approaches to addressing housing affordability and supply, and we will continue to do more, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Council approved the Centre Plan, which is already adding greater density approvals in designated corridors.
  • We are working with the housing task force, established by the Province to examine pending projects and speed up approvals.
  • And we’ve invested in modular housing projects, on both sides of the harbour, that provide safe, supportive housing to 64 people.

We are serious about addressing affordability as we build complete communities, connected by transit running on clean energy. This is the future-facing Halifax we are determined to become.

With solid plans, progressive policies, strong partnerships, and the fiscal acumen to handle our challenges, our city is well positioned to seize opportunity and grow in a sustainable, inclusive way.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Guest Post

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter and receive important updates on Halifax Chamber events, Member benefits and advocacy news.