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Mayor's Forum on the Greater Halifax Economy

Photos from Forum on Greater Halifax Economy

Videos from the Forum on Greater Halifax Economy

On Monday, March 30th, 2009 the Greater Halifax Partnership hosted the Mayor’s Forum on the Greater Halifax Economy, hosted by Mayor Peter Kelly. 

The Forum was held as a result of the current economic climate and was an opportunity to discuss the state of our economy: our priorities, challenges, accomplishments and barriers to growth.  Given that we are in year four of implementing the Halifax Region Economic Strategy  now was the time to review the Strategy, examine the priorities and decide where emphasis should be placed.

Over 300 people representing all sectors of our economy attended this sold-out luncheon and afternoon panel discussion.  The event included:

  • A keynote presentation by Glen Hodgson, the Conference Board of Canada’s(CBoC) Senior Vice President and Chief Economist on the importance of Hub Cities and Halifax as the economic hub of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. 
  • A presentation and remarks by Fred Morley, Executive Vice President and Chief Economist of the Greater Halifax Partnership on the current economic environment in Halifax. 
  • A presentation and remarks from Dick Miller, Chair of the Mayor’s Economic Advisory Committee with a review of the results, challenges and possible responses, in regards to the Economic Strategy 
  • Remarks by Chris Huskilson, Chair, Greater Halifax Partnership and remarks by Mayor Peter Kelly. 
  • A panel discussion made up business and community leaders Kathryn Laurin, MSVU; Tammy Holland, RBC; Catherine Woodman, United Way; Alyson Queen, Fusion Halifax; Cathie O’Toole, HRM; and Jim Meek, Bristol Group. (Audio)

 

Forum on the Greater Halifax Economy - Key Findings

Hub Cities

For years now, the CBoC has documented that Canada’s major cities are under-funded.  CBoC research identified nine hub cities, including Halifax and concluded that these cities are the economic engines in their respective regions or province.  In the case of Halifax, they concluded that not only is Halifax an engine for Nova Scotia, but also all of Atlantic Canada - the only regional economic hub city in Canada. 

Conference Board analysis also suggests that funding should be allocated strategically to these nine hub cities to meet their needs and pull their region forward. 

Helping Halifax to reach its economic potential must be a provincial and regional priority, since everyone benefits.
 
New funding should address the full spectrum of programs that support thriving urban economies, particularly infrastructure
 
Assign a dedicated budget line in the provincial budget to support Halifax.  Consideration should be given to providing an incremental source of revenue similar to what is done for Winnipeg and other cities.

Invest in the showroom, the downtown core, of Halifax.
 
Economic Strategy

All told, we are progressing well in areas that are directly influenced at the Municipal level.  Unfortunately, in areas where we need better alignment between all three levels of government we are falling far behind.   Examples include areas such as public investment, regulations affecting land and property development and university admissions.

Key Themes: 

TALENT - how do we keep people here, how do we get more new people and how do we train and educate them to sustain our growth.
 
INFRASTRUCTURE - we need to set priorities for what do we need to acquire, build or complete to get our economy moving more quickly.
 
CONFIDENCE – we need to deliver and articulate a brand and messaging for Halifax that supports and strengthens business confidence here at home and abroad.

Action

A lot of this detail is already captured in activities listed in our Economic Strategy.    However, we need to re-prioritize and really work them differently. As such, the Mayor’s Economic Advisory Committee has struck three working groups to address the identified themes.  These working groups will report back to the Committee and Mayor Kelly with recommendations on moving forward in the coming weeks.

As promised at the event, Mayor Kelly met with Premier MacDonald last week and left behind a letter and overview of the event that framed a discussion on how to ensure Halifax reaches its full potential as a hub city, to the benefit of our community, our province, and indeed the entire Atlantic Region.

Audio (edited)

Catherine Woodman, CEO, United Way of Halifax Region - length 3:03

Cathie O'Toole, Chief Financial Officer, Halifax Regional Municipality - length 16:01

Alyson Queen, Chair, Fusion Halifax - length 3:47

Jim Meek, Bristol - length 4:14

Tammy Holland, Regional Vice President, RBC Royal Bank - length 3:12

Mayor's Forum Photos 
Mayor's Forum Video