Downtown Paul Talks Parking

Downtown Halifax business owners come together to convince City Hall to reverse its decision on Saturday paid parking.

“Now is not the time!”

Posted on April 28, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, Halifax Regional Council voted 9 to 8 to start charging for on-street parking on Saturdays, for the first time. Aside from a new revenue stream for HRM, the collective hope behind this policy was that it would discourage cars without discouraging customers. For those who still needed to, or chose to, drive, the incremental cost would hopefully be worth it to come Downtown to enjoy Saturday brunch, a Mooseheads or Neptune matinee, or a visit to the Discovery Centre. That was the hope, but the reality is that we would not know the impact of this change until it happened. Finding out, was gambling with the livelihoods of business owners and staff who have just come though the worst 3 years of their business lives. This was simply not the right time for such a policy that could negatively impact downtown vitality.

On April 25, 2023, I presented to Regional Council at HRM’s 2023-2024 budget meeting, along with impacted DHBC Members, regarding our disapproval on HRM’s proposed policy to start charging for Saturday parking in Downtown Halifax, Spring Garden Rd. area and Downtown Dartmouth. After hearing from over 10 business owners and leaders, Council voted 13-4 to not proceed with charging for on-street parking on Saturdays this year.

Moving forward, a collaborative effort between the business community and HRM Parking staff will be an important ingredient in discussing parking policies that both achieve our city’s climate and revenue goals, and also support downtown vitality.

You can relive the meeting here.

Sincerely, Paul MacKinnon, CEO, DHBC
@downtownpaul, Defender of the Downtown) 



Posted on April 3, 2023

Last week, HRM Council voted 9-8 to begin charging for on-street parking on Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. They opted not to begin charging for weekday evening parking, which was also being considered. Halifax will become the first city in Atlantic Canada to charge for parking on weekends and this change will primarily impact Downtown Halifax, Downtown Dartmouth, and Spring Garden. The business improvement districts (BIDs) in those areas have been consistently opposed to this change and have been encouraging our members, and their customers, to voice their opposition to Council. Despite being flooded with opposition, the change was approved and will go into effect later in the spring. DHBC is committed to monitoring the impacts of this policy change and continue to advocate for its reversal starting with another letter to the Mayor and Council (see below) and an op-ed hopefully published later this week.

This page will reflect all updates around this topic as they happen, so feel free to check back regularly.

Sincerely, Paul MacKinnon, CEO, DHBC
@downtownpaul, Defender of the Downtown) 

Letter sent to HRM - April 3, 2023

Mayor Mike Savage and HRM Councillors,

On behalf of the hundreds of businesses who operate in the downtowns of Halifax and Dartmouth, we feel compelled to express our disappointment in HRM Council’s 9-8 decision to institute, for the first time, paid on-street parking on Saturdays. The business improvement districts (BIDs), and many of their members and customers, strongly advised against this, to no avail. With many of these businesses carrying unsustainable debt, and still trying to regain business lost during the pandemic, this creates a new, unnecessary public perception challenge to them and another cost to both their staff and customers (which does not apply to other businesses in the municipality). If this decision cannot be reversed before its implementation this spring, we would like to recommend a few measures to mitigate the negative impact.

  • HRM should open the lots which they own in these areas to free Saturday parking.
  • HRM should, as they did last year, allot a grant to the BIDs to run additional marketing or “free parking” day promotions.
  • Work with the BIDs to better promote non-car options to accessing the downtown on foot, bicycle, bus and ferry (and to continue to improve that infrastructure).
  • Work with the BIDs to monitor the impact on Saturdays (sales, public perception, total visitation) and be willing to reverse this decision, should it be demonstrated to be negatively impacting businesses.

We thank you for your consideration of these and look forward to discussing this with you.

Respectfully submitted, 

Tim Rissesco, Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission

Paul MacKinnon, Downtown Halifax Business Commission

Sue Uteck, Spring Garden Area Business Association