By Alicia Fraser
For the fourth year in a row, the Partnership, MQO Research and Metro Halifax partnered to conduct the CityMatters survey with Halifax residents. The survey was designed to find out what residents are saying about Halifax’s economy, technology, municipal politics, and a range of other key topics. Not surprisingly, results showed that we have great education opportunities (8.1), are interesting and appealing to visitors (8) and Halifax is a great place to raise a family (7.9). But what else are residents saying?
Here are a few highlights...
Downtown Revitalization: Key
More than 80 per cent of respondents want to see the downtown core revitalized, which aligns closely with the goals and objectives of AGREATERHalifax. Events like Dog Days of Summer and the Big Day Downtown are helping to show that the city is working towards becoming a more vibrant and eventful place. There is work to be done, but new initiatives like these noted above and large developments such as Nova Centre and the Central Library, shows that the tides are turning and progress in the heart of our city is moving in the right direction.
Mayor Mike Savage: Successful First Year
Did you know that Mayor Mike Savage is HRM’s first new mayor in 12 years? Respondents are embracing the change and his dedication to Halifax and motivation for making this an even greater place to live. A significant portion of the population, 40% of respondents, gave the Mayor's performance a score of 8 or higher in his first year. What’s his secret? Being himself and giving credit where it’s due.
Police Services: High in the Rankings
Halifax Regional Police have a lot to celebrate. They were given the highest ranking, a 7.5, of any municipal service. Much of this success is accredited to their increased training and education that has allowed them to deal with more issues than ever before, such as mental health and other social issues. Sgt. Mark Hartlen believes fully that the force is capable of facing these challenging issues but urges senior members of the force to keep in mind to not borrow resources from areas that residents are unwilling to compromise on.
Also of note in the realm of public safety, 90 per cent of respondents indicated that they feel mostly or very safe in the downtown core.
Metro Transit: More Changes Coming
Metro Transit scores rose from 6.0 to 6.3. What is noteworthy is that the number of respondents who gave a score of 8 or higher was 33 per cent – a 9% increase from last year. This shows that there is a positive shift in confidence in Metro Transit's service. Where does Metro Transit go from here? Well, recently a major public consultation was completed to shape the next five-years for the organization. Expected changes include long overdue technology and service upgrades. If you are a commuter like I am, these changes, will be a welcome improvement to our daily commute.
Proposed Projects: Looking Ahead
Respondents not only rated current services but they were asked to choose one of three proposed projects that they would like to see most. The projects included in the survey were a commuter rail, ferry or aquarium. 53% want to see a commuter rail implemented. The benefit would be that downtown could become more accessible for everyone. A feasibility study using existing rail lines from Bedford to the south end has been approved. For now the project is simply an idea but it will be interesting to see where it goes.
If you want to learn more about City Matters 2013 view Metro Halifax articles and other resources here.