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Thursday, March 15, 2007

By the numbers

Mike Fleury, putting the “us” in census.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2007 at 2:05 PM

The first round of 2006 census data was released this week, and the news for Halifax was not particularly good. Like many other urban areas in Canada, the city is growing—but not keeping pace with other cities. The HRM's population had inched upwards by just 3.8 percent since 2001, prompting much dooming and glooming—"Why are all the young people leaving?" "Why can't we inspire more immigration?"—you know the drill. Compare Halifax figures with, say, Calgary, where the population has jumped by more than 13 percent in the same time, and you begin to understand where some of the panic is coming from.

But there's another story contained in the census numbers, specific to the HRM. Population numbers can also be divvied up by Federal election district, which reveals a serious growth gap in different parts of the city. The population in the district of Halifax (Alexa McDonough country, including downtown and most of the peninsula) grew by 0.6 percent since 2001; Dartmouth-Cole Harbour by just 0.3 percent. But Halifax West, which includes Clayton Park, Fairview, Bedford and a whole lotta other condo-building/urban sprawling/car commuting havens, boomed, growing by 11 percent in the last five years—far and away the biggest growth in any district in the entire province.

So, some people are still moving to Halifax—but more accurately, they're moving to Clayton Park. Considering our crappy public transit system and our rather unfortunate dependence on cars in this city...well, it's not surprising. But it's still depressing. Wouldn't you rather see that 11 percent growth pushed back downtown?

The next round of census data will be released on July 17, relating to "age and sex." Brace yourself for the equally depressing cries of "Damn, this town is getting old!" which will surely come.

Keeping it old school

Dalhousie University students have voted down a development plan that would have changed the face of their campus and increased student fees. Last week's referendum asked students to approve the construction of three new buildings, and renovate another eight.

Just over 57 percent of students voted against the proposal. Renovations called for a major extension to the Student Union Building, which would have moved famed campus watering hole the Grad House across the street and into a new building. Dal admin says that despite the "no" vote, they have no immediate plans to repair the existing Grad House, which is in need of renovations.

This space taken

City councillors are preparing to move their cars off the Grand Parade and onto their new temporary parking lot across the street on the Birks site. Nice as that is, it turns out they're bumping the current Birks parking-space-holders out of the lot, without giving them a place to go.

The city sent a notice to current space holders on March 1, explaining that they need to vacate the lot by the end of June. The notice listed a few other lots in the area that might have parking spaces available, but the city had not made any arrangements.

Downtown councillor Dawn Sloane, who fought to remove cars from the Grand Parade, says, "I feel for these folks, but we've given them three months notice. And in the end, I've got to look out for public green space."

Be on the lookout. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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