Halifax is a wonderful city but as we’ve not quite achieved perfection yet, there are some things we can improve this year. Here are a few subjects Halifax Magazine will pursue in 2019.
Road safety. Let’s start having a grown-up conversation and accept a couple oft-ignored facts. Pedestrians and drivers don’t have an equal stake in this. As countless studies show, the notion of the iPhone-entranced pedestrian staggering blindly into traffic is largely a myth. Driver-inattention causes the majority of accidents, not reckless pedestrians. Pedestrians never kill drivers. Inattentive pedestrians endanger only themselves. Inattentive, unskilled, dangerous drivers endanger everyone around them. We’re not going to make meaningful progress on road safety until we stop deluding ourselves and absorb these simple truths. Bonus: Let’s also do a refresher on red lights and how it’s not OK to run them just because you really want to make a left turn.
Affordable housing. Halifax has ludicrously low rental vacancy rate of 1.6%, which means if you’re looking for an apartment and aren’t wealthy, you pretty much have to take what you can get. But what about all that new construction? Solid question. Look at the billboards: almost every one says “luxury” apartment. Halifax doesn’t just need more housing, it needs more affordable housing. Kim Hart Macneill is already digging into this issue; look for her report in Halifax Magazine in the spring.
Transit. Transit is intertwined with the housing issue. When affordable housing is scarce, people are often forced to live far from where they work or study. This means they either get a car that they can’t really afford or they lose hours a day waiting for buses. More cars are not what Halifax needs. Even if tomorrow we started building swaths of affordable housing, that fix takes time, so the first and most effective step we can take is to double down on fast, efficient, and reliable transit. We’ve made some good moves in that direction with new and improved bus routes. We need to do more and we need to do it faster. Our city can’t grow if a big segment of our population is hamstrung by ineffective transportation.
Council. The next municipal election is still a couple years away, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about it. Is Council providing effective leadership? Are Councillors staying true to their principles and promises? Is Mayor Mike Savage leading Halifax to be all it can be?
Immigration. Every day, more newcomers arrive in Halifax. This means that sometimes people will wish you “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” You will have neighbours who don’t necessarily share all your personal beliefs and philosophies. There will be a growing demand for food, art, and culture that you don’t recognize. And this is good. Diverse cities have stronger economies and more vibrant arts scenes; newcomers make cities better for everyone. So we’ll keep telling the stories of the people transforming Halifax. To that end, we recently invited Marianne Simon (who comes to Halifax from Port Blair, India) to join our team as an opinion columnist.
And what’s on your wish list for Halifax? What stories do you think we should focus on in 2019? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.