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HRM residents want aquarium, business commission says idea would fit growing population

By Caitlin Snow May 13, 2024 | 1:12 PM

Residents in HRM want to see more attractions downtown, especially an aquarium, according to a new survey from Narrative Research.

The survey, “Why Residents Visit Downtown Halifax,” aims to understand why residents want to come downtown, why they don’t and what is needed to make it a more attractive destination.

While a new performing arts centre and more family friendly attractions were high on the list, 49 per cent of survey responders say they would be more apt to go downtown, if Halifax had an aquarium.

Paul MacKinnon from the Downtown Halifax Business Commission tells our newsroom he loves all of these ideas and they have come up in discussion over the years-especially the aquarium.

He says the waterfront is always packed in the summer, but he would like to see investments to make our city more of a year-round destination.

“The city is growing very rapidly after many, many years of pretty modest growth and now suddenly it has taken off… you know we are really kind of into big city territory, with no end in sight with growth, and with that there’s an expectation that we are going to have more amenities.”

MacKinnon says he does find it gratifying that people are coming into the downtown core, for things like the Mooseheads, a concert and especially dining.

However, he says he’s not surprised people also say they want more cultural events and better transportation.

New vision

MacKinnon says what they really want is to make Halifax the “undisputed entertainment cultural capital of Atlantic Canada.”

With a municipal election coming up, they plan on pitching investment ideas and moves they think the city needs to make.

“We are going to be launching our new vision on June 5 and then we will spend the summer talking to all the candidates about it.”

Without getting into specifics, MacKinnon says the changes include “the full gamut,” and will focus on things like making downtown not only more enticing but easier to get around.

He says the results of the survey is great information to go along with their plan.