Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC) provides our membership with a collective voice at the table on all major issues concerning Downtown Halifax, including planning and development, urban mobility, heritage preservation, and more. We speak directly to all levels of government, the media, and other stakeholders on our member's behalf. These members range from small entrepreneurs to large, multinational firms. All have a vested interest in the economic prosperity of the Downtown core.
Action 61 of the “Halifax Economic Growth Plan” calls for HRM to develop a long-term streetscaping program for the Regional Centre. DHBC has submitted a proposal which advocates for an ongoing system to prioritize streetscape projects, with funding coming from parking revenues. This would create a sustained program, replicating the success of the award-winning Argyle and Grafton Shared Streetscape.
WORKING WITH HRM ON THEIR PLANS
It is vital that the municipalities’ various plans support their master plans, the Regional Plan and the Economic Strategy, both of which support a strong Downtown. DHBC is committed to monitoring the progress and providing input into all relevant plans. DHBC is also one of the partners in “Leading with Transit,” an advocacy group seeking a fundamental shift in the way the city experiences public transportation.
DHBC values its professional relationships with a number of other organizations, and offers small grants to organizations that are able to advance our strategic goals. DHBC is pleased that in recent years, the number of groups that subscribe to a pro-Downtown agenda seems to be growing.
To the benefit of our members and the public, DHBC is committed to promoting parking through our parking page , as well as annual campaigns or initiatives to help mitigate the perception of parking problems in Downtown. DHBC has also developed The Downtown Parking Pitch, which is meant to identify many of the issues related to parking, what to do about them, and who needs to be doing them. A number of incremental actions can substantially improve the experience of Downtown parking. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (902) 423-6658.
DHBC is the founder of The Carmichael Lecture, and co-founder of the Art of City Building conference, as well as sponsor of other lectures. We firmly believe that sharing ideas from other successful cities and downtowns is of great value.
NAVIGATOR STREET OUTREACH
Navigator Street Outreach offers direct support to individuals who are homeless, street-involved, and/or precariously housed in HRM. This initiative is a partnership between DHBC and Spring Garden Area Business Association, and also receives funding from HRM. Built on the belief that everyone should have equal access to social services, the mission of the Navigator Street Outreach Program (NSOP) is to support service-users to address barriers in accessing housing, education, employment, mental health supports, income assistance, addictions treatment, social programs, and healthcare. Bringing services directly, NSOP works collaboratively with a variety of community organizations in efforts to ensure that services-users have access to the appropriate supports and services required to promote long-term, sustainable change. NSOP is a low-barrier service that is consumer driven and operates from a harm-reduction lens. Navigator Street Outreach is but one essential component of a comprehensive strategy to end homelessness in the community.
As Downtown sees unprecedented construction, its role is to facilitate communications to the public and impacted businesses, and also to inform how construction is regulated. In 2016, DHBC gave input into the city’s construction mitigation guidelines, and continues to be an active source of feedback. DHBC is also advocating that easement fees paid by developers be earmarked for specific use to mitigate the impacts of construction.
DOWNTOWNS ATLANTIC CANADA
Downtowns Atlantic Canada (DAC) is the regional association for business improvement districts (BIDs) in the four Atlantic provinces. DAC is committed to providing a voice to the region’s downtowns and main streets, and working cooperatively with the other regional associations and the International Downtown Association. On May 27-29, the eight Halifax-areas BIDs hosted the annual conference, which attracted over 60 delegates. Guest speakers included Tim Tompkins, Times Square Alliance; author Michael Shuman; and Atlantic Canadian Mayors, Mike Savage, Pam Mood and Danny Breen. DAC’s focus this year will be on working with the Nova Scotia Department of Municipal Affairs and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency on joint strategic initiatives, and creating a three-year strategic plan.
NOVA SCOTIA MAIN STREETS PROGRAM
Many of Nova Scotia’s towns, including Halifax, saw significant investment and improvements in the 1980s through the Main Street program. For the past number of years, there has been talk of reviving this program, at the provincial level, to help create strong towns with vibrant main streets. DHBC will work with the BIDs across the province, through Downtowns Atlantic Canada, as well as with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, with the goal of seeing the province provide funding for a new Main Street program.
VALUE OF CANADA’S DOWNTOWNS RESEARCH – PHASE 3 TOOLKIT AND PROMOTION
DHBC, a founding member of International Downtown Association Canada, oversaw the development of groundbreaking downtown research across 17 Canadian cities in 2012-2013. Subsequent to that, DHBC have worked with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) to create a research toolkit that will facilitate the ongoing collection and comparison of downtown data across all Canadian cities. The toolkit is now available to all Canadian municipalities, and we are working with HRM and Halifax Partnership to gather comparable local data. This helps the city make evidence-based Downtown investment and policy decisions that are comparable to other Canadian cities.
DHBC is a member of the International Downtown Association (IDA), and sits on their Canada’s Leadership group, which helps develop federal priorities for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) nationally
CANADIAN URBAN INSTITUTE
DHBC is an active member of the Canadian Urban Institute’s “Bring Back Main Street”, “Restore the Core”, “City Talk”, and “CUI x Local” initiatives