Halifax could reach a population of half a million within 5 years

·2 min read
Halifax's skyline is seen in this 2019 file photo.  (Tony Webster - image credit)
Halifax's skyline is seen in this 2019 file photo. (Tony Webster - image credit)

Halifax is on its way to having a population of half a million people in less than five years.

Currently, 459,000 people call the municipality home. It's been growing at about two per cent a year since 2016.

"We're adding the equivalent of a 10,000-person town every year," Jacques Dubé, Halifax's CAO, said at a November budget meeting.

In fact, Halifax is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, second only to Oshawa, Ont.

Over the past two years, almost all of Halifax's new residents have moved from other parts of Canada. Officials expect the growth trend to accelerate when it becomes easier once again for immigrants to move here.

The head of the Halifax Partnership, an economic development agency in the city, said the international business community is taking notice of the municipality's population trend.

"It's been a banner year for attracting new companies. Since the first of April, 18 innovative companies have decided to set up here because they see the labour force growing," said Wendy Luther, the agency's president and CEO.

'How do we get this right?'

But rapid growth can lead to problems, particularly in the lack of housing.

"We need to make the investment in infrastructure to scale up to the demand," said Luther. "The opportunity and the challenge now is how do we get this right?"

According to the sustainable cities co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, improved transportation also has to be a focus for municipal officials.

"The more people we have, the more we need to get them around efficiently," said Kortney Dunsby. "We do that with complete communities with a mix of options, including active transportation and transit."

Dunsby said the options also have to be available in all part of the Halifax region: urban, suburban and rural.

Both Luther and Dunsby said protecting Halifax's natural beauty has to be part of the equation because it is among the reasons people are attracted here in the first place.

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