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Allowing Uber Will Make Halifax a Better City

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Uber is available in almost every other major Canadian city. By not allowing Uber, Halifax is showing itself to be a city that is stuck in the past.

Other Canadian cities have embraced the service. Some examples include:

  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Ottawa
  • London, Ont
  • Windsor, Ont
  • Regina
  • Saskatoon
  • Barrie
  • Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Montreal

The appeal of the service is not hard to understand. It is more affordable, quicker, simpler and more reliable than traditional taxis. That’s why it has taken so much of the market. Uber is an innovative, 21st century service that has revolutionized the taxi industry.

According to a poll (done by us) with over 1,000 respondents, the overwhelming majority of Haligonians support allowing the service here. Of course, polls like this aren’t scientific, but they are a solid first look into what the public thinks.

Uber will undoubtedly be an issue during the upcoming municipal election. I imagine councillors and candidates who oppose allowing the service will have a hard time at the doorstep. The war over allowing (or disallowing) Uber continues to rage on in the Twittersphere:

If Halifax wants to show itself to be a forward-thinking city that isn’t “stuck in the past”, allowing widely used ride-sharing services would be a good start.

The Nova Scotia NDP is Sprinting Into Irrelevance​

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Gary Burrill has been successful in taking the Nova Scotia NDP out of the mainstream of Nova Scotia politics, and towards hard-left socialism. All pretences of fiscal responsibility and good governance have been dropped in favour of ludicrous spending proposals and vapid, bumper-sticker “promises”.

The 2017 election was seen by some as a good result for the Provincial NDP. In reality, it represented their worst popular vote showing in 26 years.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The loss of Dave Wilson in 2018 represented a huge blow to the legitimacy of the party. Unlike the opposition PCs, the Nova Scotia NDP now have no members with any actual experience in cabinet, allowing to party to drift further into fantasy-land. The loss of Wilson’s seat to the PCs goes to show that Nova Scotians, even in a traditional NDP stronghold, have abandoned the party en masse.

Source: Elections Nova Scotia

The provincial NDP has abandoned the only message that ever led to any form of electoral success. Prior to the rise of Darrell Dexter and Robert Chisholm, the Nova Scotia NDP was always relegated to irrelevance. The only message that has ever worked for the provincial NDP was one of pragmatism. Pragmatism doesn’t mean an abandonment of their core values like social justice and labour rights. Instead, a pragmatic message tries to appeal to as many people as possible, not just a small minority of hard-left ideologues.

The “smart” faction of the party that understands this fact have almost all left. This includes Dave Wilson, departed NDP president Bill Matheson and former Vice-President Judy Swift.

Swift’s criticism of Gary Burrill are scathing.

From an The Coast:

“His focus on what he believes to be a ‘mission’—which might otherwise be a good characteristic—has become a liability which blinds him to his own shortcomings and hypocrisy,” she writes. “It has led him to inhabit a Trump-like world of alternate facts.”

In order for the NDP to return to relevance they need a new leader. The party is back down to 5 seats, and needs a new vision that includes more than just people on the hard-left and labour bosses.

Side note:

Why did the NDP opt to swap an awesome logo for a horrible one. As a student of graphic design, this perplexes me.

Former NDP Logo

The former NDP logo is creative, modern and sleek.

The current NDP logo looks like it was made in Microsoft Word. The flag looks like it was lifted from a stock image site. This logo is undoubtedly as bad as the PC logo (and that’s saying something). Also, in the interest of bipartisanship, I will concede the NS Liberal logo is also nothing to write home about. The former NDP logo was probably the best provincial political logo of all time.

The Number of International Students Staying in NS Has Tripled Since 2011

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According to One Nova Scotia, the group formed to measure the progress towards the goals set out in the Ivany Report, Nova Scotia is becoming an increasingly attractive place for international students.

According to the data, in 2011, only 4.1% of international students opted to stay in Nova Scotia after graduating. The data for 2018 shows that 12.6% are staying. That is a massive change and represents thousands of people and millions in additional economic activity.

Source: https://onens.ca/goals/goal-3-retain-international-students/

From OneNovaScotia:

A growing number of potential economic migrants are being attracted to study at Nova Scotia’s post-secondary institutions. More of them are also choosing to stay and build a life here. This is an opportunity to help combat the province’s demographic and economic challenges. As the number of enrollments rise, retention efforts can expand to accommodate the larger volume of potential economic migrants.

Nova Scotia is going to need more immigrants (both international and interprovincial) to address our demographic issues. This is a positive sign, but more still needs to be done.

Nova Scotia’s Seafood Exports Have Doubled Since 2012

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Nova Scotian seafood exports now top $2 billion, which represents an increase of over 100% since 2012. This is according to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in a government report that can be found here.

Nova Scotia has always been known for our seafood, and our aquaculture sector. If you search for pictures of Nova Scotia you will likely be met with stock images of lighthouses and lobster traps. The Airport is packed full of stuffed lobsters and anchor-shaped bumper stickers. 

The nature of the Nova Scotian seafood business is changing. Globalization has affected the sector in a many positive ways, which will drive the sector for the years to come.

Shanghai
Shanghai

We now export $524 million dollars worth of seafood to China. China is undoubtably a growing market for our seafood, as that figure has jumped by 36% in the past year alone. Growth like that means that production is going to have to jump significantly to meet unprecedented demand. That also means that the market is becoming more lucrative, and this may signal better times for the economy in rural Nova Scotia, especially the South Shore region.

Exports to the European Union have also risen significantly, with $197 million worth of seafood being exported from Nova Scotia. The U.S. remains as the largest destination for local seafood, with exports upwards of $900 million annually.

The key to sustained growth in the aquaculture sector is sustainability. As Alberta and Newfoundland can teach us, having an economy to reliant on one sector poses opportunities and risks. Because of the crash in oil prices, Alberta now has one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada, although they are still Canada’s richest province per capita. As revenue from this booming sector grows, ensuring sustainability and a focus on long-term planning will help Nova Scotia avoid the boom-bust cycle Alberta knows so well.

The Rose Bushes on Dunbrack are Being Cut Down for “Safety Reasons”

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According to a statement by Councillor Russell Walker, the bushes are too dangerous and need to be removed.

The bushes have long been celebrated by the residents of Clayton Park. They really add a charm and give the community a natural vibe.

The decision to chop down the rose bushes is almost as perplexing as council’s unanimous decision to scrap a plan for commuter rail, although there was more to that story. There is not more to this one, it is all council’s fault.

Hopefully some peaceful resolution can be found and the bushes can be sparred. They are awesome.

Halifax’s Real Estate Market is Blazing Hot

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Huge numbers of people are moving here, and the houses to accommodate them aren’t being built fast enough.

Source: Royal LePage

According to Royal LePage Atlantic, the average sale price of a home has gone up by 2.5% since 2018, vastly outpacing inflation. Their data also shows the total number of listings has gone down, and the list to sale ratio has risen.

Halifax real estate is becoming quite a solid investment. As long as our population continues to grow and our economy keeps on booming, the value of real estate will probably continue to rise.

Who is Tim Houston?

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This man is gunning to be the next Premier of Nova Scotia, but serious questions remain about his past.

Image Source: Wikimedia Foundation (Creative Commons Licence)
Image Source: Wikimedia Foundation (Creative Commons Licence) 

Houston, 49, was elected as leader of Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative party last October. Houston is an accountant by trade, who spent much of his adult life living and working in Bermuda. Born in Fairview, Houston serves as the MLA for Pictou East, a riding that covers areas of rural Pictou County and the town of Westville.

Controversy erupted in 2017 when Houston’s name was tied to the Paradise Papers, a leak of millions of documents relating to the use of tax havens. Houston was shown to be an executive for “Inter-Ocean Holdings”, a company that offers “reinsurance” services in Bermuda and Ireland. Houston spent a decade in Bermuda offering business services.

The reinsurance business in Bermuda is not booming because of normal economic forces. Instead, it is booming because American companies can avoid paying taxes by setting up complex schemes that take advantage of the low tax rates in the tax haven. Bermuda is well known internationally for it’s 0% corporate tax rate.

When asked about these connections, Houston stated that he did not do work involving Canadian firms or individuals.

This graph, provided by the ICIJ, shows the business ties Houston had while in Bermuda
This graph, provided by the ICIJ, shows the business ties Houston had while in Bermuda

Tim Houston is a well-established fixture in Canadian right-of-centre politics. Ontario PC cabinet minister Caroline Mulroney headlined the Tory AGM earlier this year, and Houston is expected to push the Conservative ticket in Nova Scotia during this upcoming election season. 

Houston has taken a hard stance against the carbon tax, and would consider lifting the moratorium on fracking as Premier. The moratorium on fracking appears to be one of the most popular decisions made by the current government, as fracking remains widely unpopular throughout the province.

Fracking may help boost the economy of rural Nova Scotia, but it comes with significant risks, one of which is contamination of the water table, shown in the diagram below:

As Premier, Houston would oversee all municipalities in Nova Scotia. This would make him the person most responsible for the future of Halifax. The next provincial election is likely to be in 2021, with the Premier serving a 4-year term given they win a majority of seats in the legislature.

Ranked: Halifax’s Top 5 Taco Shops

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Take a taco tour of Halifax with our list of the 5 best taco shops in Halifax

5. Taco Lina’s

Some of the best authentic tacos in Halifax. Also one of the best restaurants on Agricola (and that’s saying something).

4. Tako Loco

The newest player in the Halifax taco game brings authentic flavour and reasonable prices. Worth a try!

3. Gecko Bus / Habaneros

The Gecko Bus has become a perennial favourite. The food is great, and the setting is hilarious. Whoever though of turning a school bus into Gecko deserves some sort of reward… maybe unlimited tacos of life?

2. Verano’s

One of Halifax’s hidden gems. Worth a trip downtown to try one of their tacos (they are awesome!).



  1. Antojo’s Tacos

You can’t beat Antojo’s bang for the buck. You also can’t compete with their atmosphere. And the food is absolutely to die for.

What did you think of our list? If you enjoyed it, share it. If you didn’t, let us know where we went wrong in the comments below.

Nova Scotia is Crushing the Ivany Report Goals

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At the time, the goals set out by the Ivany Report looked difficult, if not impossible. Unexpectedly, Nova Scotia has beaten and surpassed many of the goals, years ahead of schedule.

The first goal in the Ivany Report was to “increase interprovincial migration to a net positive of 1,000 per year”. In 2012, Nova Scotia lost 3,000 people to interprovincial migration. As of 2018, Nova Scotia is gaining around 2,000 people per year due to interprovincial migration.

Source: Wikimedia

Halifax is very well known for it’s many universities. International students come from every corner of the globe to study here, but we have historically had a hard time convincing them to stay. One of the goals in the Ivany Report was to “increase the rate of retention of international students to over 10%”. In 2011, the retention rate was an abysmal 4.1%.

As of 2018, 12.9% of foreign students who come to study here stay. That not only crushes the Ivany Report goal, but represents a tripling of the amount of university graduates who stay in our province. No wonder the start-up scene in Halifax is booming.

Seafood exports have more than doubled since 2010, easily exceeding the Ivany Report targets. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is declining, a reflection of solid fiscal policy and good economic management. We are on track to meet the debt reduction goals set out by the Ivany Report.

Will we meet all the goals set out by the Ivany Report? Maybe, but probably not. What is most significant is that the goals we are meeting are the ones we where not expected to meet, which is great news.

Changing the Narrative​ – Our Announcement​

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Urban Halifax was started as a challenge to the assumption that Halifax is a city on a path to nowhere.

Over the past few months, our positive message has resonated. In the month of June alone, our content reached a whopping 180,000, 90% of whom live in the Halifax area.

The launch of Urban Halifax’s groundbreaking new website will disrupt the media environment in Halifax. It will be an effective advocate for building a better city.

I am amazed at all of the talent who are interested in writing for us. Our site will have numerous contributors and feature editorials from familiar names.

UrbanHfx.com has been built on a solid foundation. From a technical aspect, it is built of steel. It has more than enough bandwidth and can handle incredible traffic.

The goal of this project is to help build a better Halifax. Halifax is turning a corner, but there is still work to do.

We envision a Halifax where kids don’t have to leave to make a living. We envision a modern, cosmopolitan city where artists thrive and small businesses prosper.

Join us in carrying this flag.

John Grant, Founder of Urban Halifax

Connect / john@urbanhfx.com

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