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Big talk 

A draft regional plan, transit improvements and new developments marked 2005 as a year of growth. Christopher Vaughan looks back.

The past year saw quite a few changes planned for HRM. From immigration to public transportation to harbourfront schools, a great deal of development was proposed and implemented.


In June, the Atlantic Immigration Conference, hosted by Halifax mayor Peter Kelly, investigated what could be done to attract immigrants to and encourage them to stay in the province. Immigrants are needed to help maintain population levels, support the economy and fill understaffed professional positions. However, one major problem identified is that many immigrants are unable to quickly receive accreditation in their professional field. In response, the province implemented a recruitment program to help expedite the immigration process for licensable international medical graduates over the summer.

Halifax Regional Plan

HRM worked to complete their 25-year regional plan in 2005. This book of policies, regulations and maps governs how HRM will expand over the next quarter-century. It also addresses issues such as increased public transportation, while looking at ways for HRM to grow and save money at the same time.

The first draft of the plan was released to the public in May and public consultation occurred over the summer. A second draft was released in December; SuperCitizens are encouraged to provide input until the January 31 deadline. The final plan is expected to be tabled by council in early 2006, with a public hearing in March.

Grand Parade

It’s probably the most scenic parking lot in Halifax. But in 2005, plans were finally under way to turn Grand Parade into something more inspiring. In the spring, the provincial government approached city hall to come up with a plan that would benefit several provincial properties in the downtown region, including Grand Parade.

A call for proposals was made with a November 4th deadline. The bid selection team has made a final decision but cannot release the name of the winning project until it’s officially approved by HRM’s chief administrative officer, Dan English. Once it receives the go-ahead, the winning project will have a six-month deadline for completion.


In August, Metro Transit launched the first phase of MetroLink, a limited-stop direct bus service from the Portland Hills terminal in Dartmouth to downtown Halifax. The service allows people to park their cars at a designated lot in Portland Hills and then ride an express bus into the downtown core. It has become so popular that Metro Transit says it will have to expand the parking lot by 100 spaces in the spring of 2006.

The $13.3 million project received funding from Transportation Canada—making Halifax one of eight cities across Canada that showcases an urban transportation strategy between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Waterfront development

In the spring, NSCAD announced that it was expanding, with a 70,000-square-foot campus along the Halifax Port Authority’s seawall. The Port Authority designated the area a cultural district, announcing it will develop a mix of offices, galleries and retail spaces there.

At the end of May, the Nova Scotia Community College closed down its Bell Road campus and started construction on a new facility, located on the Dartmouth side of the harbour. The $50-million building is expected to be complete by January 2007.

Also in the spring, a preliminary plan was submitted to HRM for a $150-million residential- commercial development on the site of the former Dartmouth marine slips. The developers are waiting for the go-ahead from council and hope to break ground sometime in the new year.

The biggest change to the Halifax waterfront is a proposed 700,000-square-foot project, which includes expansion of the Maritime Museum and further development of Queen’s Landing, to be completed just in time for the navy’s centennial anniversary in 2010.

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