On Tuesday city council approved a new strategic framework that will attempt to increase HRM’s population by 50,000 people and boost the gross domestic product by $3.5 billion before 2021.
Consultant firm KPMG developed the new strategy, guided by an economic advisory committee with representatives from the private sector, armed forces, universities and other levels of government.
In its report, the advisory panel happily notes that since 2011 HRM’s population has grown from 402,000 to 418,000, our economy has risen 1.7 percent annually and unemployment rates remain flat at 6.3 percent.
Basically, things aren't the worst. Mayor Mike Savage underscored that fact.
“Every now and then we should point out the damn good things that are happening,” said the mayor. “We're seeing a golden age, I call it, in downtown Dartmouth of entrepreneurs.”
But Tuesday’s report also says Halifax needs to do better. It recommends streamlining business regulations and offering a more welcoming, inclusive city to residents new and old.
As such, the municipality will now turn its attention to four vague but noble goals. In the next five years HRM will strive to promote growth, attract and keep residents, make Halifax a better place to live and better align our economic development with the province.
The practical steps to hit those targets will be overseen by the municipality along with Destination Halifax, the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation and the Halifax Partnership.
Though the new framework passed with mostly gushing applause, some councillors worried about how long it’s taking this province to turn talk into action.
“I ran into Ray Ivany last week, and he's getting a little impatient with the whole Now or Never,” said councillor Lorelei Nicoll, summing up the last two years.
The full report on HRM’s financial future is here.